Facilitating Innovation

The FastCompany review of the new book The Ten Faces of Innovation sounds like an interesting read. I personally find dealing with people who are always trying to find a reason to say ‘no’ rather than understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a thought, idea or approach somewhat tedious and backward. They don’t seem to understand that doing the same old thing is not what positions you or your customers for a better future. Perhaps this book will give some additional insight into guiding people to thinking ‘not “no”, but “how”‘.

Innovation is all about people. It is about the roles people can play, the hats they can put on, the personas they can adopt. It is not just about the luminaries of innovation like Thomas Edison, or celebrity CEOs like Steve Jobs and Jeff Immelt. It is about the unsung heroes who work on the front lines of entrepreneurship in action, the countless people and teams who make innovation happen day in and day out.

And by adopting some of these innovation personas, you’ll have a chance to put the devil’s advocate in his place. So when someone says, “Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute” and starts to smother a fragile new idea, someone else in the room may be emboldened to speak up and say, “Let me be an anthropologist for a moment, because I personally have watched our customers suffering silently with this issue for months, and this new idea just might help them.” And if that one voice gives courage to others, maybe someone else will add, “Let’s think like an experimenter for a moment. We could prototype this idea in a week and get a sense of whether we’re onto something good.” The devil’s advocate may never go away, but on a good day, the 10 personas can keep him in his place. Or tell him to go to hell.

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