Now, my CEO friend (we are still friends, which says a lot for her forbearance!) asked me, “So, if we don’t put innovation at the heart of what we do, how do we create the edges we need?”
That is a great question, and I know several approaches which work well. For example, we can create a team or teams which have the freedom to fail.
Often companies create an innovation lab to this end. Labs, among other roles, should ceaselessly experiment. As that most innovative composer John Cage said, “An experiment is an action, the outcome of which is unknown.” It is the unknown you are looking for.
In addition to having freedom to fail, labs teams need to be lean and agile. And I strongly suggest that you recruit team members from outside your business domain. Remember that knowledge and experience can be barriers to seeing things in a new light. Those who don’t know your domain will bring new, unhampered, thinking almost by nature.
Yes, there is an irony here. I am suggesting a well-tried method to help your company break away from well-tried methods. That’s the fun thing about innovation. It’s an art more than a science!