Management of Innovation Award
Suggestions for the syllabus
The broad scope of innovation e.g.
n Design, n
Invention, n High technology manufacturing,
n e- businesses.
The tools of entrepreneurship e.g.
n Venture capital, n
Protecting and valuing intellectual property, n
Sources of innovative ideas.
The psychology of innovation:
n Why change is commonly perceived as a
threat, rather than an opportunity, n The
psychology of perception; how we all perceive a new concept in a unique
manner, depending on our existing knowledge of the world.
Communities of Practice Groups that gather around a
common topic for which they share a passion.
Case studies, looking at innovation and new product
development from different stakeholder perspectives e.g. the
viewpoints of n Shareholders-maintaining
their trust and support n Accountancy-ensuring
financially prudent innovation n
Marketing-the importance of customer involvement
n Purchasing-the importance of
supplier involvement n Personnel-
training/selling innovation to the older employee n
The external inventor-How do we assess proposals from outsiders?
Adding an innovation flavour to traditional management
techniques e.g. n Risk assessment,
n Time & resource planning,
n Cost planning & control.
Some topics that require special consideration
(1) Recognising and dealing
with innovation Jeremiahs'
The term Jeremiah is commonly used to describe a dismal
prophet. Here we are using the term more specifically to describe the
prophets of doom within organisations who specialise in the art of
destroying innovative ideas. Their opening gambits in any workplace debate
on a proposed innovation include,
"It's a good idea but …."
"Well if your prepared to take responsibility if it all
goes wrong then ….."
"I like your idea but Jones in Accounts is bound to say
…….., so we would just be wasting our time."
Jeremiahs' have the existing practices and customs in
their favour and are perhaps the greatest threat to innovation within an
(2) The difference between
Incremental Innovation and Radical Innovation.
Managers need to be aware of the fundamental difference
between Incremental Innovation and Radical Innovation, if they are to
implement innovative change effectively.
Incremental innovation refers to the small everyday
changes that occur in any thriving workplace. Radical innovation typically
involves major changes and short term inconvenience for many people.
Good managers are expected to make minor decisions without dithering but
making snap decisons on radical issues, without taking time to think
through the consequences, in order to look decisive can be disastrous. The
table below contrasts the characteristics of good incremental and good
radical decision making.
Incremental (everyday change)
Radical (Major re-think)
The type of questions asked and answers
Closed questions asked. e.g.
"Should we move this computer to create more desk space?"
Precise answers expected.
"Yes" or "No"
Initially open questions asked.
e.g. "What features should our new computer network have?"
Initially suggestive answers
tolerated. "Maybe we should ...."
The mind-set of the people involved in the decision
Cautious, because too many minor
changes can be chaotic.
Initially willing to consider
proposals that may cause temporary upheaval.
The time taken to make decisions.
Decisions should be made by the end of the meeting.
Evaluators should 'sleep on it' before coming to a
Characteristics displayed by good innovation
Managers should stick to decisions
and not dither.
Decision makers should show flexibility and be willing
to change their minds in the light of fresh
Developing an innovation orientated mind set
Managers can maximise the chances of the germ
of an idea expanding into a full blown innovation if
they develop the right mind set. The following
mind training tips are suggested for inclusion in the syllabus:
- Be a rebel. Don't conform to peer group belief that a problem can't
- Learn from "fools" as well as experts. "Fools"
are often people who are intelligent but appear to be stupid, simply
because they think in an unconventional manner.
- Have patience when trying to solve difficult problems. Sleeping on a
problem will often reveal its solution but other problems need
revisiting time and again for moths or years before they are cracked
- Accept that your first solution is rarely the best one. Get into the
habit of trying to refine your ideas at the theory stage before rushing
into the exciting phase of implementing them.
- A failed attempt to solve a problem is only a waste of effort if you
don't make serious efforts to learn from your mistakes.
- In your early work on a difficult problem, don't let the constraints
of the real world cloud your thinking. A Mk I solution which is illegal,
expensive or offensive in some way can often help you to view the
problem from a new angle. Working your way round the practical
objections to create a Mk II solution is often easier than starting from
- Reverse engineeer your thinking Ask yourself, "Where would we be like to be (say)
fifty years from now, if everything goes to plan?" Then work backwards
deciding what needs to be done to achieve your goals. Be ruthless,
stripping anything out of your project plan, which isn't essential to
meeting your long term goals.
- Summarise your innovative idea, problem or solution in a single
sentence, then revisit the sentence several times to refine it.
- Summarise your innovative idea, problem or solution in a block
diagram or sketch.
- Adopt Full Strength Thinking. When groups of individuals attempt
to solve a difficult problem they usually come up with a range of
competing solutions. The aggressive side of human nature then tends to
come to the fore, with the protagonists for each proposed solution
putting more energy into championing their solution and defeating the
alternatives than in coming to grips with the core problem itself. Full
Strength Thinking recognises that after a few early knock-out rounds, the
remaining potential solutions all have some strengths that the final
solution should incorporate. At this stage it is often helpful to
re-define the problem, taking into account the greatest strengths of the
main competing proposed solutions.
Back to Theme 2
On to Theme 3
The Excellence in Innovation Award
The Management of Innovation Award
A Virtual National Innovation Centre
A National Jobs & Skills Database
North melted into South Businesses
Solving the home delivery problem
Theme 7 Improving IT
teaching in schools
Theme 8 Rebuilding trust in
science & technology
simplifying dietary advice
The MMR vaccine problem
Science & Peace in the Middle East
National Innovation competition
Innovation in the public services