“Games, this looks fun," exclaimed one of the participants.
Just the sight of the big board game-like mats on the floor aroused enthusiasm among all participants coming to the workshop Inspire to enhance innovation capability. This also ties in with one of the most important thoughts I take with me from the two and a half hours with AstraZeneca and Googol: We all have a child inside us. In order to develop an innovative culture we have to energize the need of curiosity, courage, inspiration and affirmation. "The best way to create an innovative culture is that you, as a leader inspire your staff, affirm them and show them that you care”, said Peter Lindquist from AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca uses the method Leaping Hurdles to categorize innovations. It categorizes how radical the innovation is and how structured the work was developing it. The participants were given the task of categorizing a few famous innovations using the large mat. One example was the Post-It-notes that were invented by an employee at 3M trying to find a new use for dysfunctional glue. This invention can be categorized as a radical innovation that was developed in an unstructured way and therefore it was placed in the bottom right corner.
The participants also laid out colored textile pieces to illustrate the types of innovations that are most common in their own organization and the majority ended up in the upper left corner – incremental innovation developed in a structured way. When the participants laid out textile pieces for "desired position" the majority ended up in the same square as the Post-It-notes.
One person who was thinking the other way around said that innovation is unusual at his company and that those who were innovative were the “outsiders” and for them there were no structures. Although he wished that there would be. Another participant already had a structured way to innovate so he instead wished that he would have permission to be innovative in more unstructured ways too.
AstraZeneca and Googol offered an interactive workshop, with lots of discussions. One of the missions was to discuss different statements written on different cards. One card that many groups disagreed on was whether competition is necessary to develop an innovative climate.
"Competition is not positive when the groups challenge each other, external competition may be more positive," said one of the participants. "Internal it’s better to use incentives that doesn’t goes down on the one that do not receive the reward”, was a suggestion from another participant. Peter from AstraZeneca also highlighted the importance of rewarding failure to encourage an innovative climate.
Lack of time, hierarchy leadership, power structure and money were factors that the participants highlighted as barriers to innovation, and these notes were put up in the middle on the floor to build up an obstacle.
Peter from AstraZeneca said that we often blame external factors as barriers to innovation and we tend to believe that we cannot influence the circumstances and thereby we become a victim.
"The opposite is to have a willingness to learn from their failures and to strive to improve all the time" said Peter and encouraged the participants to jump over the obstacle with the notes on.
One of the participants said that he thinks that this mindset often is based on the people’s fears. Åsa Ander told us the story on how AstraZeneca works hard to become more innovative to bring up the performance in the organization. "One of the most important things to get there is to change the culture," said Åsa Ander.
Article by Lisa Renander, Co-founder & CEO, Go Enterprise AB
För mer information:
Activity: Inspire to enhance innovation capability Workshop at Innovation in Action 2011
Date: 19th - 20th of October 2011
Place: Sky City Conference at Stockholm Arlanda Airport
Profile of participants: Innovation practitioners
Hosted by: Innovation Pioneers
Partners of IIA 2011: Swedavia, Microsoft, Logica, Vinnova, Maxibit, Bergenstråhle & Lindvall, SISP and Baker & McKinzie.
The initiating companies of Innovation Pioneers:
Astra Zeneca, Alfa Laval, Electrolux, Volvo IT, Atria,The Absolut Company (Pernod Ricard), Ergonomidesign, Ericsson, Googol, Hjälpmedelsinstitutet, IKEA, Innventia, SCA, Stora Enso, Tetra Pak and Uponor.