5 Ps of Innovation

Marketing has its 5 Ps, (or 6 or 7, or however many there are now). Here’s Innovation’s 5 Ps. It’s a framework of critical aspects of innovation that should be considered. It’s not an answer key. Some points may apply to your industry and company, while others may only serve as thought starters to consider.

1. Perception

  • To what degree do your employees currently believe the organization is innovative?  What examples can they give?
  • To what degree do your external partners, vendors and customers believe your organization is innovative?  Can they readily give examples?
  • How would your employees describe your leadership: hierarchal and command and control, or open and collaborative?
  • To what degree would your employees describe you as a leader with an innovation mindset?  Can they support it with tangible examples?
  • To what degree does your leadership team feel they can openly challenge your ideas?

2. Philosophy

  • Create a decentralized model of innovation management.  Thinking innovatively and creative problem solving is everyone’s job.
  • Define the purpose of innovation and the role it plays in identifying growth opportunities, addressing disruptions, hiring & training, and in annual planning.
  • Create a common innovation language.
  • Create “what if” versus “what is” thinking habits, even in the smallest of situations.
  • How will unexpected outcomes be handled (rewarded/punished)?
  • Create an innovation process and curriculum and teach it, teach it, teach it.

3. Process

  • DISCOVER
    • Are we doing the right things? Comprehensive and complete!
    • Sets trajectory for everything that follows.
  • DESIGN
    • What will the evidence of excellence be?
    • Know who the creative thinkers are within your organization and find some outside the organization.
    • No “experts” allowed.
    • Use ideation techniques to get to the best solution.
    • Involve the team who will be maintain this solution post Launch.
  • DEVELOP (low risk, low exposure)
    • Are we doing things right?
    • Expect unexpected outcomes.  Plan plenty of time for refinements and increasingly larger iterations until the solution is 95% “there” and no more unexpected outcomes.
  • DEPLOY (large exposure)
    • Post launch: maintenance
    • Evidence of excellence and ROI

4. Place

  • Absolutely essential!
    • Reduce the core contextual thinking and free the mind for breakthrough ideas.
  • Teaching and immersing employees in the innovation process.
  • A conducive environment for hosting departmental innovation sessions as a regular practice (e.g. hackathons, pitches, etc).
  • Celebrate and display the story of innovation projects. 
  • A dedicated space for simulating prototypes with staff and customers away from the fray of the everyday office.

5. People

  • Understand a candidate’s thinking style BEFORE he/she is hired.  Diversify the tribe.
  • Create a bench of thinkers outside the organization to offer an unbiased, naive perspective.
  • Create an army of everyday innovators through embedding innovation coaches.
  • Bring customers behind the curtain…before there’s a curtain.
  • Name a person who is responsible for innovation.  This person is not the chief innovator, but he/she teaches, coaches, consults, encourages people on how the innovation process works, guides projects owners though it and shows how others can participate, lead and teach the process.

BONUS P: Precaution

  • Don’t over innovate. Change for change sake spells disaster
  • Agile innovation doesn’t mean fast. It’s a combination of Quickly and Timely.  Quickly = strength (boxing)  Timely = smart (boxing)
  • Beware of leaders who think they know everything.  People who know everything are learning nothing.  
  • Having an innovation culture full of creative problem solvers can benefit the community around you and the world in general.  Put good innovation to good use for the benefit of others.  Create an innovation mission.
  • Communication is key.  Do it well and often.  Same message 7 times in 7 different ways.  Innovation dies without communication.
  • Celebrate launches and learnings, and don’t get caught up in who doesn’t show up from the c-suites. They’ll come around.

IN THE END, these Innovation Ps are intended to be conversation starters. Pick and choose the ones that inspire you and apply them to your work. Hopefully, they will serve as tools to influence others!

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Unsplash

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