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Where Does Your Innovation Live?

Innovation lives in your DNA, not in some funky urban office plaza.

Source: Pixabay

What is the zip code of your innovation lab?

Or should I ask for the genetic sequencing of your innovation connective tissue?

My concern is that too many innovation labs, accelerators and incubators are being built without real and tangible connections to those people they intend to serve. Yes, they are all branded around the same thing: Customers first! But in this case, the customers (who should be served first) must be the rank-and-file employees who actually bring the magic to market. The real innovation lab doesn't live down the road or in some dramatic urban setting with a powerful industrial design. It lives as a neural network that connects and inspires all. Innovation must connect with the heart and soul of a company—the employees.

It's really a "culture lab" that connects innovation to individuals and helps transform from within. And conversely, it's culture that squashes innovation at its earliest stages. Yet, many companies still build their funky silos in an attempt to attract innovators and innovations only to find that "the big idea stops here."

It's time to add a few ideas into those wordy mission statements:

  • Innovation is a shared engagement.
  • Staff must share in the process, from insight to execution.
  • Innovation must be expressed and fostered across staff levels and functions.
  • Innovation is not outside in; it's from the inside out.
  • A company where the staff is not aligned on innovation will fail.

Of course, much of innovation comes from outside corporate's brick walls. But the friction and resistance to change from within can be insurmountable. And the heat of this resistance can be felt outside those walls. Obstructionism, ignorance, apathy and a host of other issues are seen and sensed by those external innovators who bring the lightening to the lightening rod.

The dirty little word in innovation that many often miss is receptivity. We live in a world where ideas flourish. Innovators abound and eclectic ideas traverse the globe, looking for a place to land. Today's corporations must embrace this dynamic and understand that they are the runways upon which many ideas come to ground. However, it's sad to see how many brilliant ideas have crashed and been lost because of those rigid bumps and treacherous cross winds of opinion that make landing the big idea almost impossible.

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