employee innovation

A Simple Solution to Unlocking Value

 

Jared Simmons explains why simplifying assumptions could be the key to unlocking value faster and freeing up your knowledge workers to innovate.

I learned the power of simplifying assumptions early in my career. As an engineering student, I watched my professors fill boards with Greek letters and symbols, exponents and integrals, constants and variables. Then, in the last 10 minutes of class we worked a real problem together. The first step of solving the real problem was always to use the context of the problem to apply simplifying assumptions to the theoretical equation. Things like material composition, physical location, and scale let us whittle that complex equation down to a more manageable size. Essentially, they allowed us to build real, specific things based on universal theories. Because we understood the theory behind it, we could quickly identify the right simplifying assumptions for each new practical application. An hour in understanding, 10 minutes in practical application.

 

The two main points discussed in this article are:

  • Barriers to applying simplifying assumptions at work
  • Why simplification matters

 

Read the full article, The power of simplifying assumptions, on the Outlast website. 

 

The Art of Creative Thinking

 

Recently, there has been much discussion about the value of play for helping creative ideas flourish, but Kaihan Krippendorff shares examples of play at work and provides 10 ways to inject play into your organization. 

In the 1830s, an artist and tinkerer, Samuel Morse, directed his curiosity to a question few had considered before. Numerous scientists and inventors across the globe were working on the problem of how to communicate across long distances more quickly.

At the time, information could travel only as fast as a human could. Ink on paper would be rushed to its recipient by horse, later by canal, later by steam engine. Each innovation accelerated the speed of communication, but none could break the limitations that physics put on the written word.

While scientists and inventors around the world worked on plans that could accelerate the speed of communication (e.g., one team was working on a system of telescopes and flashing lights dotted across land), Morse approached the challenge from an artistic bent. He was more curious about the physical experience humans had in trying to decipher and make sense of blinks, how to paint signals onto paper.

 

Areas of interest in this article include:

  • Revving up the speed of communication
  • A painter inspired by play
  • Play your way to a breakthrough
  • You can’t have success without failure
  • 10 ways to inject play

 

Read the full article, Play: The Source of Innovation, on Kaihan’s website. 

 

How UPS Inspired Employee Innovation

Amanda Setili shines a light on an initiative that sparked employee engagement, inspired innovation, and motivated collaboration. 

 

What does a 110-year-old company do to increase the rate of innovation from less than one new business per year to 50? 

The answer, says David Lee, Vice President of Innovation and New Ventures at UPS, is to launch a program that taps into the brilliant growth ideas lurking in the heads of many of its 480,000 employees. 

The program is called Upstarts, and it invited employees to “in five pages or less, tell us your idea for growth.” 

To spur interest, Lee’s team held mixers in cities around the world, from Shanghai, to Neuss, Germany, to Toronto and Miami. Employees heard what UPS was hoping to achieve through the program, and how they could contribute. 

“It’s not just about ideas,” Lee explains. “It’s about finding teams of passionate, talented people.

 

Read the full article, Upstarts Kick-Start the Pace of Innovation at UPS, on Amanda’s website.

Six Questions to Find the Right Sponsor

To inspire successful innovation, Kaihan Krippendorff explains why the composition of the founding team is crucial and why the first step should be to find a sherpa. He provides six questions to help you assess and secure a powerful advocate to lead the team.

That historic moment when the perfect team unifies beyond an opportunity, pregnant with possibility, is the essential scene of any great innovation legend: think Jobs and Wozniak when they created Apple, Gates and Allen with Microsoft, or Page and Brin with Google.

This is why so many books and professors and venture capitalists focus on the composition of the founding team – you want more than one person but fewer than seven, the right mix of personality types (Roger Hamilton offers a useful framework), and a balance of skills (the hacker, hustler, and hipster).  But here is the problem. More than 70% of society’s most transformative innovations have come from employees, not entrepreneurs, and forming a team around an innovation idea as an employee is a fundamentally different challenge.

 

Read the full article, Your Innovation Needs a Sponsor… Here are 6 Signs You Have the Right One, on the Outthinker website.

Following the Path to Innovation

In this TEDX talk at Columbia University, Kaihan Krippendorff discusses employee innovation within the model of disruption, and how it helps activate lean, agile innovation and growth in your organization. 

 

“Employees are the number one source of innovative growth options and the only remaining source of true competitive advantage. Arming them with the skills and tools necessary to innovate on a continual basis is of paramount importance to organizational survival.”

 

Points covered in the talk include:

-The path of the entrepreneur

-Disruptive innovation

-The innovation myth

 

Watch the Ted Talk, Change the World without Quitting Your Job, on Youtube.

Read the full article in the Change The World Without Quitting Your Job