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Business Innovation Roll-up: Remembering Process, Forgetting Permission + 7 Sins to Avoid

What’s the difference between innovation and creativity? What does one do when management stands in the way of seeing ideas develop into successful projects? When should focus shift from product to process? We addressed all of these questions and more here on Conspire in the month of June. Check below for five of our favorite articles:

Innovation and Creativity: One of These Things is Not Like the Other

We’d like to clear the air about the complicated relationship, and often misappropriated swapping, of the terms creativity and innovation. These two words are the fraternal twins of today’s competitive business market: born out of the same place, certainly related, but nonetheless divided in purpose and application.

Most importantly, they differ in design; while creativity revolves around the mind’s ability to unleash possibilities, innovation is an act of disruption that brings change to established systems. Companies that make and understand that distinction are able to build strategies that support and measure both, rather than force an atmosphere where creativity is stifled by metrics and innovation is stilted by a lack of real-world value.

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It’s Not Just About Product, It’s About Process Too

There’s been a lot of talk in the past few years about reducing organisational complexity and creating more flexible operating models to improve the process of taking a product to market. Previously, companies could only tell if a product was successful by the number of sales and the money in the bank, but the rise of the internet and social channels has made it possible to get feedback from customers via these channels before a product is even launched.

Obviously this is extremely useful for businesses as it helps to hone the offering and reduce mistakes if processes are changed to incorporate this kind of feedback. But what about the processes that make this possible?

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Want to Innovate? Don’t Wait for Permission

For small startup folks, innovation can often go like this: you wake up one morning with a great idea for improving your business. At the office, you excitedly tell your colleagues all about it and by the end of the day there’s a plan in place for testing it out.  It’s certainly a fun–albeit risky–reality for those who have the luxury of living it, but in the corporate world the same approach can be seen as reckless and unprofessional.

Seth Godin, an entrpreneur, author and public speaker, summed up this bottleneck quite nicely in a recent Creative Mornings talk: ”One of the things I hear the most after I give a talk or if someone reads one of my books is, ‘that’s great…but my boss won’t let me.’ Well of course she won’t. Because what you’re saying to her is: I want to do something really cool and really neat and if it works I’ll get the credit but if it doesn’t you’ll get the blame because you said it was okay. Who would take that deal?”

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Innovation Without Foundation: The Seven Deadly Sins

Having big ideas is great, but executing on them takes a little more than just the proverbial light bulb. Innovation without foundation is a little bit like riding a bike without wheels, or any number of metaphors surrounding vehicles without engines — although the basic structure is there, ideas can’t move forward without support, mobility, and fuel.

Here are the 7 deadly sins that most companies commit when trying to carry big ideas from genesis to fruition without doing the proper groundwork or building a strong infrastructure, and how you can keep from indulging.

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After Innovation: Turning Great Ideas Into Great Projects

More and more companies are turning to design thinking, an approach to innovation that includes three intersecting, rather than chronological, stages: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. In design thinking, it’s key to understand the necessity of shifting the focus away from loosely-structured brainstorming in exchange for the tactical integration of ideas into business blueprints. It sounds stringent, but realistically? Companies that only empower inspiration for its own sake are wasting what could, with calculated application, turn into serious competitive advantage.

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