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The Thread: What Are Your "Principles of Innovation"?

What do you do to foster innovation in your organization?

One of the most popular stories on Fast Company this week was published in 2008. Chuck Salter's piece, "Marissa Mayer's 9 Principles of Innovation", enjoyed a traffic resurgence upon the news of Mayer's appointment as CEO of Yahoo! 

Even though I'm an editor and Mayer is an engineer, I found Chuck's interview with Mayer full of useful advice as I attempt to create more opportunites for innovative ideas to sprout and flourish at my organization—for my employees, my colleagues, and myself ("Creativity Loves Constraints"; "Innovation, Not Instant Perfection"; "Share As Much Information As You Can").

Take a look at Mayer's remarks. Then share your own "Principles of Innovation"—no matter your industry—in the comments section below.

[Image: Flickr user Fiddle Oak]

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  • Laurence Botha

    Always ask how can we improve. When you can't think of ways to make your company or product more practical, more beautiful, more cost effective, ask, how can you make it more entertaining. But never stop asking till when you look again what you have created, you see it is world changing and not just good enough to meet time targets.

  • Abraham Nunes (@abrahamnunes)

    If you don't feel stupid, your questions are not sufficiently attacking fundamental assumptions.

  • @JC7777 on twitter

    Innovation only occurs when you create an environment where people can thrive;

    Share your vision early on so everyone can follow the dream and contribute in their own way. It sounds obvious but so many companies keep their strategy closed off to top senior executives but the really powerful organisations have everyone aligned, focused and united across every level.

    Encourage people to develop their ideas and not discard them because it's too expensive to build or you don't have the resource. If you have a good idea just keep evolving it, something great will come out of it and it might be one strand of the original idea but it's the tiny seed that set you down that road and got you a field of crops.

    Look way beyond your sector, great ideas, great content and great experiences are all around us. Take those inspirations and think about how you can innovate in your space. There is nothing more powerful than the way you make the consumer feel, they will forget most of what you say or show them but never the emotional connection they have with your brand.

    Don't always assume innovation alone is doesn't have to be complex or the worlds greatest idea, often just executing something beautifully in a way that's never been done is the most powerful idea. I also think if you program all the key moments, all the things you have to do that are simple innovation will come off the back of that structure. It should be layers on top of what you are already doing that heighten those moments.

    Inspire people around you, motivational leaders change companies, I've been privileged to have worked with incredible people like Angela Ahrendts who has a presidential presence when she addresses the teams. She had an incredible vision and clarity about where Burberry should be going and she knew that a close knit culture was key to that. Everybody who worked on the brand did it with their heart and soul and I think that shines through, the customer can feel the intent of the brand.

    Don't take up all your teams time with process. Make sure they have the time to fly higher, to pan back and see everything in order to dream bigger. Sometimes organisations stop people from doing this inadvertently because it feels like they aren't working to many people when they take the time out but actually it's the best kind and the most effective way.

    Justin Cooke

    Chief Marketing Officer

  • Jatin

    Innovation requires some outliers. Don't apply statistical principles to small groups and rate their performance based on "annual goals aligning with company strategy". This only limits the thinking and blocks creativity in favor of short term results. Identify outliers quickly by careful hiring and close interaction (not based on results in mundane assignments), empower them, and get out of their way for a while based on how long and what your organization can afford.

  • Robert Gold

    I have spent the last 20 years working with two or three organizations a year. About a year ago I shucked that. I have reconstructed technology, communication and accounting.  A book has been out for less than two weeks (e-book for a couple days) and it is starting a buzz.  It tells of a very simple innovation. I just put out a short clip on Mayer.  I am a big fan.  

    Thanks for shouting out for a reply.  Anjali if you are curious, I have a crude temporary site at dwellinginanewworld dot com.  There are a couple of videos out on youtube.  One a couple hours old and the other is gaining some interest after a little over 36 hours.  I will be putting my first "serious blog" out in the next day or two, as people can talk about the book and invention.
    I hope this didn't sound too much like advertising, but then in our society and technological condition we are surrounded by noise.  Thank you for you interest (or patience)!

  • RalfLippold

    "Sharing as much as possible, and cross connecting people/ groups/ communities (boundary spanning), where you see possible useful connections" - my mantra of the day

  • Jatin

    Totally agree with communication being key. All the stakeholders should have as much information as possible, whether they make decisions or not. It helps them understand the motivation and spirit behind strategies and plans.

  • Anjali Mullany

    That's interesting. How do you share information - a weekly email? An internal blog? Regular meetings? In Chuck Salter's piece, Mayer explained how information sharing takes place at Google: 

    "People are blown away by the information you can get on MOMA, our intranet. Because there is so much information shared across the company, employees have insight into what's happening with the business and what's important. We also have people do things like Snippets. Every Monday, all the employees write an email that has five to seven bullet points on what you did the previous week. Being a search company, we take all the emails and make a giant Web page and index them. If you're wondering, 'Who's working on maps?' you can find out. It allows us to share what we know across the whole company, and it reduces duplication."