Post number two coming out of today’s is Olin Innovation Lab #5. Other ideas inspired by the day:
Thoughts about Ideation Platforms
- Businesses are recognizing the importance of innovation and the challenge of innovating from within an organizational structure designed to support established operations. They’re developing platforms to support internal innovation. The structures, called innovation management systems, or ideation platforms (!), solicit ideas for new initiatives from staff in various ways and shepherd those ideas through some development, evaluation, prototyping, and ultimately funding. Intuit has a famous process called Brainstorm; even 125-yr old Johnson & Johnson has something similar.
- Why would you want a platform and process to support and encourage innovation? Because it doesn’t happen easily otherwise. Some of the challenges are simple: one key one is just staff time. If you’re busy working, you don’t have a lot of time to think of and develop ideas that might not work out (and in fact you might get in trouble). Another challenge is funding–the purse-string holders are operations-focused–and even though they know it’s important to innovate, they still lean towards the things they know and toward reasoning from the things they know: keeping the machines and systems running, the people happy, and looking for incremental change and improvement. Innovation threatens to disrupt those things, even if it succeeds.
- Innovation in Higher Education. Basically, we should have our own ideation platforms. Easy enough to imagine applications of new technology in education–we’re pretty good at rolling technology out quickly. We’re good at research innovation, too; in fact, it’s the nature of research that we are encouraged to think of and follow-through on a variety of novel ideas and questions. But it’s not quite as easy to innovate in the curriculum, in the development of courses, in the organizational structure that supports that curriculum. Whereas we should probably be rapidly prototyping new ways to teach and learn.
A Couple of Other Ideas:
- Augmented reality is still there–a big splash a year or two ago seemed to be followed by a kind of lull, but with interesting new apps that translate messages you see on the fly (Word Lens) or analyze your golf swing (iSwing) the promise seems to be coming to fruition. I still want my augmented reality app for my library, so that I can annotate the library space and resources and see others’ annotations . . .
- According to today’s speakers, analytics is about to take off (even more), particularly in the mobile space. More data about the things people do are being collected than ever before, and the tools for analyzing that data in interesting new ways are almost ready.
- Businesses are now shifting from investing in mobile apps and creatively taking advantage of the digital age for their customers to now similarly empower their employees. It’s surprising but apparently true that business have heretofore been creative with their customers but offered their employees rather less fun.