Innovation – the creation of something new and useful – is the lifeblood of organizational success. Now more than ever, organizations rely on innovation as the single most promising strategy to growth. The most astute organizations are trying to stimulate innovation by building cultures that encourage it, but many are finding that this is easier said than done.
Where does innovation come from? In his new book “The Rational Optimist”, Matt Ridley (See The Wall Street Journal, May 22-23, 2010) tells us that Neanderthals, who had bigger brains than ours and were capable of speech, barely invented any new tools in the hundreds of thousands of years that they survived. What accounts for the explosion of culture and inventiveness, e.g. the creation of farms, cities, tools, processes and technology, in the more recent past is ‘Collective Intelligence’ – the sum of interaction and exchange between individuals.
It should come as no surprise that innovation relies on exchange of ideas that come from different sources, like a physician talking to a rocket scientist leading to camera guided surgical procedures. On a smaller scale, almost every organization carries the seeds of innovation in the diversity of perspectives represented by different disciplines. The challenge lies in getting these groups and individuals, many of whom speak different professional languages and even have different values, to routinely share their ideas in the spirit of collaboration and in support of innovation.
The Delphi Group, Inc can help organizations define and implement the structures, practices and behaviors to shape a culture that supports innovation. The fact that we ourselves are a cross-functional team (John is an electrical engineer and was a product manager at Procter & Gamble before starting his consulting practice, Dana is a Ph.D. in Psychology and has practiced as an organization development consultant and mediator) has helped us develop innovative approaches to helping organizations define and achieve their strategies. Learn more at www.thedelphigroup.com