Innovation has become so widely talked about, misunderstood and misconstrued to the point of becoming a cliché and a mere buzzword. It shouldn’t be. Instead, innovation is a discipline that needs to be inculcated, mastered and managed.

We define innovation as something different that has impact (read The Little Black Book of Innovation to learn more). This intentionally broad definition helps to demystify three common innovation misconceptions:

  1. Innovation and creativity are the same. Creativity certainly helps with idea generation, but innovation doesn’t stop there. Without impact, there is no innovation. Rather, innovation is a process that combines discovering an opportunity, blueprinting an idea to seize that opportunity, and implementing that idea.

  2. Only a select group of people should drive a company’s innovation activities. People often think that innovation lives in labs, and is done by white-lab-coated scientists. A truly innovative company needs to involve everyone in the organization and equip them with simple innovation knowhow.

  3. Innovation is all about “big bangs”. Pushing for big bangs often leads to overly risky ideas that have little hope of getting approved at most companies. Starting small is a great way of approaching innovation.

To cut through the complexity, we have identified six ways of working that underpin an organization’s innovation culture. Employees at your organization can take a pledge to adopt these practices into their work:

These ways of working define what all employees practice on an everyday basis that, if companies get right, can create a systematic, integrated ecosystem for innovation.

Do you want to get from innovation being merely a buzzword to a disciplined way of working? The Innovation Culture sprint is a great starting point.