Innovation is a term that’s flipped about these days more than the 6.00pm hamburger patties at McDonalds. And while it’s quite the fashion to claim a culture of innovation or develop a fancy innovation strategy, that doesn’t mean the boss can simply approve installation of a slippery-dip in the reception area and then call it quits.
Here at Blrt HQ, innovation is kind of a big thing – we live and breathe it every day (no slippery-dip necessary), but we’re empowered to do so by a set of conditions that removes the fear and boundaries often felt by employees at organisations that pay lip-service to the term. We’re very lucky to work in a company that was built upon the premise that there are better ways to do pretty much anything.
The top bananas within any organisation that wants to foster an culture of innovation simply have to dedicate themselves to developing constructs that empower staff to do so, and there are honestly a bazillion ways that this can happen. Just Google the term ‘how to foster innovation’ (one of my favourite hobbies is Google-ing the blazes out of just about anything to prove my point) and you’ll see that I’m not exaggerating.
So if there’s all this information out there about how to develop an innovation strategy, then why are there so many frustrated employees and so many companies about to go the way of Kodak and the Dodo bird?
Well, I have a few theories. So instead of writing a nice, fluffy 900-word blog post about how to foster innovation while singing Kumbaya, I’m going to embrace the sentiment of one of my favourite quotes of all time:
If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.
Yep… that’s right. This blog post is all about what not to do. Hopefully it’ll ring a few bells – and of course to ring a few bells, you need to pull a few chains ;-).
How to kill any innovation strategy
1. Establish the ‘15-minutes of poop’ rule
If one of your team members approaches you with a great idea, spend the next 15 minutes pooping all over it and vigorously pointing out all of its flaws. If there’s any spirit left in them after 15 minutes, extend the pooping session to 30 minutes. That should stamp out the fire in their belly.
2. Implement the ‘cone of silence’ charter
Never, ever, ever, ever allow people from different departments to speak to one another. If possible, install separate lifts, toilets, lunch rooms and water coolers, just to be sure. If you catch them talking, launch an inquisition IMMEDIATELY, backed by the might and power of the entire management team. If they were just talking about last week’s footy game, you can let them off lightly with 20 lashes. But if they were talking about work, show no mercy. It’s got to be 100.
3. Introduce the ‘no questions’ policy
Since questions often lead to more questions, which could prompt an idea – or even worse, a solution (GASP!), it’s safer to stamp out the practice of asking questions, full stop. One way to do this is to remove the letter W from everyone’s keyboard. Since W features in the words ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘where’, which in turn all feature in most questions, this should make the practice of asking questions a little more onerous.
4. Hire ‘know it all’ managers
When recruiting for your management team, it’s important to hire people who already know everything there is to know about anything. Make sure that they never feel inclined to ask team members for their opinion, on any topic whatsoever. Brief them to interrupt any employee who comes to tell them something by yelling ‘I ALREADY KNOW THAT’ very loudly, three seconds into the conversation, while plugging their ears with their fingers and closing their eyes.
5. Cease every form of staff update
It’s critical that staff members are kept in the dark as to the company’s strategic intent, general direction and objectives, lest they have an idea about how to get there sooner. Ban the newsletter, the all staff email, the quarterly finance update and the annual Christmas speech by the CEO. Outlaw the poster and the flyer and the WIP meeting. Make engaging with intranets or Yammer, Jabber, Chatter, Jostle, Wrike, Slack, Jive or any of their similarly irrepressible, jazzy and enthusiastic ilk a dismissible offence.
6. Introduce ‘death by admin’
If you’re unfortunate enough to have a really eager beaver in your employ who is brimming with ideas and potential, and they just keep on coming back to you, make them fill in a seriously long form, in quadruplicate, in order to submit their idea to the executive team. Ensure that the form requires the development of a full risk analysis, sales projections for the next eleventy years, a manufacturing or development plan that’s scoped out to within a 5% margin of error, and a fully functioning prototype. That’ll slow her down.
Now if this list of tips hasn’t killed innovation stone dead within your organisation, then perhaps you’ll need to consider another approach – closing down completely. This technique, albeit somewhat extreme, will definitely stop people from showing up for work with an idea. And if you stop and think, you’ll realise that it’s just bringing forward the inevitable result of stamping out innovation.
Job done! Go have a cocktail.
… Or maybe let innovation live
Of course, if the idea of getting all that creative blood on your hands makes you queasy (whoever said “kill your darlings” wasn’t being literal, people) there’s no shame in admitting defeat and continuing with an innovation strategy.
Blrt – itself an innovation that we’re pretty glad we didn’t let die – is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Pitch an idea right this moment (before somebody tries to stop you):
Blrt helps you get your point across quickly by allowing you to talk, point and draw over images, documents and websites. The resulting video-like recording is called a Blrt.
Your Blrts require much less bandwidth than video and can be shared with anyone on mobile or desktop. This makes Blrt ideal for both collaboration and the creation and sharing of dynamic content, as public Blrts can be embedded into any webpage.
Once recorded, Blrts are stored in the cloud and are exchanged with others in a conversation-like fashion. A record is kept of the exchange, and new parties and media can be added at any time.
Blrt shifts time and place, allowing users in a conversation to participate in their own time. In an era where activity-based working and distributed teams are commonplace, Blrt is revolutionising the way people interact to get things done.