If you want to innovate successfully then you don’t need to increase the number of creative ideas you generate. You need to learn to evaluate them differently.
Hi, I’m Rachael,
I’m a creativity and innovation researcher and business practitioner who helps founders, managers and executives overcome individual and group biases and organisational barriers to get more ‘bang for their buck’ from the creativity already present in their forganisations.
People come to me with questions like…
- What can I do to prevent new entrants disrupting my market?
- Why can’t we seem to come up with anything radically different?
- How can I decide which innovative ideas to pursue and which to ditch?
- How can I differentiate my new products and services from my competitors?
- How can I create an innovation culture like Google, Amazon, Alibaba … name your business unicorn!
Is this something you’ve been asking too?
I’ve worked with some of the most inventive and creative businesses during my industry career. From starting my career as a graduate management trainee in Tesco in the mid-90s, through to working for Rolls-Royce on a £320m innovation project in 2012, I’ve been blessed to work with incredibly smart and savvy people. But time and time again, I’ve encountered situations where an organisation asked employees for more creative ideas, yet when employees made suggestions they were frequently rejected and not taken forward. I couldn’t understand why there was such a disconnection between the two.
Maybe you are experiencing the same situation? You’ve got lots of creative people, but you’re puzzled why that’s not being transformed into strong innovation performance.
The same question puzzled me too.
When I decided to study for my PhD in 2014, I wanted to research a topic which was not only academically rigourous, but had significance for practitioners. I chose to research how creative ideas were evaluated and how individual and social biases and structural and systemic barriers prevent ideas from becoming innovation.
What I uncovered is that many companies think they need more ideas – with quantity comes quality, right? But while there are more ideas going into the pipeline at the front end, there are only so many projects which can be resourced and funded at the other. Which is why every organisation I’ve encountered has a method for deciding which ideas to take forward, whether it’s as simple as manager’s intuition, or a complex business case comparison or other evaluation process.
The problem is – most evaluation methods unconciously recreate and reproduce what you’re already doing! They’re not giving you the innovative results you desire. That’s because humans don’t tend to like novelty and change. It’s wired into our physiology, psychology and social interactions. And our workplace cultures encourage and value certainty and success over the unpredictability and false starts which often come with innovation.
If you are going to increase innovation then you need to evaluate ideas differently.
Do you struggle to transform employee ideas into innovation?
If you’ve been searching for ways to transform ideas into an increase in innovation performance, then I invite you to explore the different ways I work with organisations here.
Dr Rachael Lamb is Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Haydn Green Institute, University of Nottingham. Her expertise lies in the intersection of creativity and innovation and her research centres on addressing how organisations can create and maintain an entrepreneurial culture.
Rachael teaches Entrepreneurial Creativity and Innovation Management on the Business School’s MBA and MSc programmes and teaches Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management on the Undergraduate programme.
Prior to working in Higher Education, Rachael worked in industry for 20 years, supporting executive leaders in managing change and innovation. She has worked with many high profile organisations including the UK National Health Service, Rolls-Royce, Waitrose, National Grid and the Royal Bank of Scotland and has consulted with SMEs on utilising creativity for business growth funded by the European Regional Development Fund.