Want breakthrough products & services? Perfect Cross Pollination
Naturally we are often asked, how do breakthroughs happen? And what are the secrets to securing a steady stream of these? XEROX PARC had it right in the 70’s, Google has got it now, but how can your firm do it? Here’s how:
Our friends at fast company have their list: The 5 ways to Cross Pollinate for Innovation and these include some excellent possibilities but naturally they are lacking specifics, which we have added here and which we we often augment for our clients:
1) COMBINE UNLIKE IDEAS: and people, bringing in those who normally don’t sit at particular meetings to take a stealth seat and provide feedback after the meeting
2) TALK TO PEOPLE: bringing in external speakers, taking the entire team to conferences and workshops after hours regardless of location, utilizing TED, online universities, etc.
3) BUILD ON EXISTING IDEAS: and client bases in adjacent industries
4) HIRE A DIVERSE WORKFORCE: the more languages that are spoken the better even IF that person is not the best 24/day worker as diversity creates alternative viewpoints
5) USE A METAPHOR: visually, textually and of course emphatically
More cross pollination toolsets include details by Harvard researcher Lee Fleming in his cross pollination article on 17,000 patents which details how he used natural language processing to analyze breakthrough products – that made it, or might make it to market.
Other cross pollination possibilities include:
6) HACKATHONS: encouraging staff to use trash in the office or factory for art and technological projects
7) OUTREACH: programs to help local school children and also paid time off to do the same in forigen countries which is tax deductable
8) LOOK FOR TROUBLEMAKERS: they exist not for their own benefit but for your customers benefit if asked how they can “make it better”
9) OPENING WHAT IS CLOSED: when divisions focus on fiefdoms innovation is stifled. Rotational work groups may slow things down if productivity is all that matters, innovation is seldom about doing the same thing over and over and getting great (expected) results – the definition of insanity. You may think it a time waster, but inactuality it is a time creators.
The days of trips to the bar and weekend barbecues paid for by management are over. Unless you are creating an atmosphere where the creators are challenged, displayed and rewarded, your firm is missing the boat because behind closed doors your competitor are already doing the above.