Innovation Weekly: How it Works, Post-It Notes & Slow Adoption
14 Oct 2017

Innovation Weekly: How it Works, Post-It Notes & Slow Adoption

14 Oct 2017

Data From 3.5 Million Employees Shows How Innovation Really Works

This article is based on a 5-year longitudinal study of 154 companies and over 3.5 million employees on their use of an idea management system called Spigit. The system was used for different purposes by different companies; some use it for process innovation, others for product development, and so forth.

The key finding of the research is that the higher the ideation rate (number of approved ideas by management divided by number of active users of the systems) in a company, the higher the growth and net income. This is hardly surprising, because this indicates that the company is not risk averse to new ideas, and are more likely to execute on them. However, the researchers point out, contrary to popular beliefs, that there are 4 conditions that must be met in order to sustain high ideation rate: Scale (more participants), Frequency (more ideas), Engagement (more people evaluating ideas), and Diversity (more kinds of people contributing).

What Do Post-It Notes, Amazon Drones and Gmail All Have in Common?

Post-It, Amazon drones, and Gmail may look like three seemingly unrelated products, however they are the fruits of innovation born out of the same key underpinning: intrapreneurship. What makes intrapreneurship so powerful is that the route to innovation is reversed. Whereas conventional method commands a top-down approach, intrapreneurship is a bottom-up movement.

The article goes on to explain a three-step approach on how to encourage intrapreneurship, and the importance of creating a company culture that looks beyond short-term goals, such as quarterly earnings in order for intrapreneurship to flourish which in turn will foster innovation within the organization.

The 30 Year Rule – How Long Does Innovation Take?

This article boldly claims that as a ‘rule of thumb’, major innovations generally take 30 years to catch on. Just observe the past, the author continues, and one will see a recurring pattern that this rule of thumb holds true. From Edison and his electric distribution system in 1882, to Xerox’s ‘Mother of All Demos’ in 1968, up to the first successful experiment of quantum computing by IBM in 1993. All of which took or will take roughly 30 years to be impactful.

On a side note, there are endless articles/videos explaining why sometimes ostensibly useful innovation are slow to be adopted by the general public; one good example is this video by HBR. However, not many articles attempt to draw a conclusion that it will take roughly 29-30 years for the next major innovation to have an observable impact.

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