The eLearning industry has its roots in innovation, as a disruptive technology for education and training. At Upside, we strive to innovate in our product and service range, and find it’s a bit of a hit and miss affair.
It often makes me wonder, is there a set of rules we can use to foster innovation? I stumbled on this article at McKinsey Quarterly (Registration required) – Brad Bird is interviewed and talks about nine rules for fostering innovation. The article is a couple of years old and dated, but offers timeless insights into the management of the creative process. When I drew comparisons with what we do as a practice of innovation at Upside, I was thrilled to see we are doing some things right. On the other hand, there are some things we can do better and some we can change.
Lesson One: Herd Your Black Sheep – “I want artists who are frustrated. I want the ones who have another way of doing things that nobody’s listening to”
Lesson Two: Perfect is the Enemy of Innovation – Sometimes good enough is, well, good enough.
Lesson Three: Look for Intensity – “Involved people can be quiet, loud, or anything in-between-what they have in common is a restless, probing nature”
Lesson Four: Innovation Doesn’t happen in a Vacuum – “If we can interconnect all our strengths, we are collectively the greatest animator on earth.”
Lesson Five: High Morale Makes Creativity Cheap – “If you have low morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about 25 cents of value. If you have high morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about $3 of value. “
Lesson Six: Dont Try To “Protect your success” – “… don’t play it safe—… do something that scares you, that’s at the edge of your capabilities, where you might fail.”
Lesson Seven: Steve Jobs Says ‘Interaction = Innovation’– Encourage people to come into contact with each other.
Lesson Eight: Encourage Inter-disciplinary Learning – “Pixar basically encourages people to learn outside of their areas, which makes them more complete. [and more creative].”
Lesson Nine: Get Rid of Weak Links – “Passive-aggressive people—people who don’t show their colors in the group but then get behind the scenes and peck away—are poisonous. I can usually spot those people fairly soon and I weed them out.”
Lesson Ten: Making $ Can’t Be Your Focus – “It seems counterintuitive, but for imagination-based companies to succeed in the long run, making money can’t be the focus.”
Especially loved how he talks about pushing teams beyond their comfort zones, encouraging dissent and building morale. This is a must-read.