There are endless experts in any field who will gladly outline the rules you need to follow to be successful. Innovation is no different. A search on Google will show you how much commentary is out there on the rules of innovation. There are “rules to a new science of success”, “innovation matrices” that are applied to corporate models, and a whole host of other innovation success models that you “should” follow. Google yields about 186,000,000 results for a search on “rules of innovation,” so take your pick.
But is there really a set of rules that innovators must follow to find success?
Certain Rules Should Be Followed
Innovation is about pursuing new ideas, so it seems counterintuitive to be bogged down by rules, but there are some guidelines that can give an organization a push in the direction towards success:
- Clearly define the problem: ask the right questions and define precisely what it is you are trying to accomplish.
- Set a scope: is this a time-sensitive problem? How soon do you need an answer? Setting the scope for your innovation process will help you define how you pursue it.
- Cultivate diversity: don’t get bogged down with the same ideas. Allow new people into the process who can bring new approaches to solving your problem.
- Encourage collaboration: Remember that innovators do not need to be in the same field as the problem they are trying to solve. Encourage different departments and specialists from different fields to work together to find solutions.
But Remember that Rules are Meant to Be Broken
There is no clear, set pathway from initial problem to the ultimate solution. Innovators must be prepared to try different avenues in order to succeed. Innovative ideas can come from any place and at any time, and getting hung up on the rules is an easy way to continuously repeat the same mistakes over time. You can research the rules of innovation forever, but make sure you are prepared to break them if it means achieving your end goal.
The Most Important Rule: Open Up
The biggest mistake a person can make when trying to solve an innovation issue to become too closed off. Too many organizations spend years (and millions of dollars) trying to solve issues on their own. They lock themselves away, trying the same methods and avenues, only to find out that the solution lies outside their walls. Open innovation makes anything possible because it allows organizations to leverage a network of solvers from different disciplines and fields. New ideas, methods and solutions are presented that, if they don’t solve the issue outright, at least open up new possibilities that can lead to success.
Do not be afraid to crowdsource solutions for your innovation efforts. Businesses often find success by simply opening up their doors.