As innovation leaders, we can create jaw-dropping powerpoint slides about the value of the innovation process and give stunning presentations about the power of design thinking, but there’s always that nagging experience of speaking with people within the organization who have no clue about innovation or how to apply the process effectively. It’s the reality we deal with. How do we create and maintain a culture of innovation while fighting against the leaky bucket of knowledge? We worked hard to fill their buckets with innovation learning and application. How do we keep it full?
To fight the inevitable drop in knowledge, consider knowledge drops.
One particular company I worked with was experiencing high growth and rapid change. People were changing roles and positions on what seemed an annual basis. Maintaining innovation as a corporate capability was difficult because of the heightened sense of urgency for achieving results. Yet, teams that applied the innovation process were delivering the strongest results. In general however, the question was, How do we continue to achieve results through applying the innovation process when many team leaders are so consumed with the work, they shortcut the process or ignore it altogether?
That’s when they began monthly knowledge drops. These were a variety of monthly activities that reinforced the principles behind the innovation process and to how to apply it. The entire organization was invited. Knowledge drops included
- viewing past Ted Talks with specific topical application to innovation process steps such as listening and design and prototyping followed by a 20 minute discussion
- improv for better innovation and listening
- lunch and learns with guests from Pixar, Lego, community planners, artists and non-profit
- in-field studies and more.
Sounds great right? Out of 2, 500 employees only an average 40-60 would show up. Was that a fail? Heck no! Was it really worth the effort? Heck yes! That’s 40 to 60 people per month who became a stronger thread of innovation contributing to a stronger larger fabric of the innovation culture.
IN THE END, whatever we learn about innovation is like learning a foreign language. Without constantly working that muscle, our fluency weakens and eventually fades away. Regular knowledge drops can offset the amount knowledge that has…dropped. Don’t be discouraged if these events are not highly attended. Do for a few what you would like to do for many. Over time the few will become the many!