Yes, our national hero and astronaut, Wubbo Ockels, was a special man. He initiated many innovative projects, most of which were a flop. But that did (apparently) not affect him. He went on unabated and with infectious enthusiasm. I think that this is where the essence of successful innovation lies. Innovation is super hard because you change something which everyone is used to, and therefore most of your colleagues, customers, competitors, and other stakeholders resist the new idea. Most of the people around you will not believe in it. It is my experience that new ideas are rejected by the vast majority of people. I also think that many people with awesome ideas will never realize them because of the fear of rejection and failure and the possibility of being criticized by others.
Successful innovation requires creative people. Inquiring and contrarian minds with a lot of guts who do not care about any negative, destructive criticism and who are very passionate and persistent despite the many setbacks they will encounter on their way. In addition, they need a great deal of persuasive power as regards words and actions.
To produce all this is not easy. And it seems almost impossible for me to implement this in a software application in a company. Wanting to make such an application seems to me something typically like ‘modern management-ism’. Make an application and the whole thing is resolved. Hooray, we have integrated innovation in our company thanks to our management software!
I think you should not bother too many people in the company with innovation. If everyone in the company is actively innovating soon the company will plunge into total chaos. I have chosen (after much trial and error) not to bother anyone (or only a few) with my innovations until they have been tested and are viable. But I am crazy about innovation. New solutions, improvements, doing things faster, cheaper, and better is immensely satisfying and well worth all the effort. I would also love to see more innovation from my colleagues and I encourage everyone to make improvements. It may seem that I am contradicting myself, but I think that innovation starts with small steps forward and everyone in the organization is able to contribute and everyone should contribute.
So an idea for an application: every day a reminder sent to everyone to make an improvement and implement it and a tweet to them not to give up and a like on Facebook that they are doing well and an “Endorsement” and “say congrats” on LinkedIn.
I am very curious, Jan, about your personal experiences at your company, because I’m sure that you have to be tremendously innovative to maintain and enhance your market position. To achieve the results you create for your clients I am sure a great deal of innovation must be essential.