Innovation is a Contact Sport!

Three weeks ago, we introduced our model for viewing innovation from a team and organization perspective.  The model, which we call the “Innovation Field,” is described in our bestselling book, The Seeds of Innovation.  The empirically-based Innovation Field incorporates eight key areas or “elements” that, together, create a systematic and systemic view of how to create, improve upon, and sustain the conditions for innovation.


Let’s now take a look at the seventh and eighth element of the model:

7) Innovation Rewards and Recognition

8) External Stakeholder Innovation

Innovation Reward and Recognition:
We believe that innovation transcends all elements of an organization and, therefore, is not a sole responsibility of any single function or area. On the contrary, it is everyone’s responsibility to identify and implement continuous innovation. Innovation should be clearly described as a specific objective in everyone’s performance objectives. Further, in our view, innovation efforts should be recognized and rewarded as a means of stimulating an innovation culture throughout the organization.  A team should review how it is evaluating and rewarding both individual and group innovation efforts. A
nd remember, in the final analysis, innovation is a contact sport!


External Stakeholder Innovation:
Our definition of “external stakeholders” includes customers, suppliers, regulatory agencies, and other partners.  Indeed, our broad definition also includes competitors!  To be sure, no organization stands alone. Every organization is part of a complex web of interdependencies with each entity ultimately reliant on the others for survival and success.  Great ideas will come from knowing how this web operates and how your organizational group or function best operates within it.  Great ideas also will come from knowing your business, your customers, and your competition. Every organization must tap the external marketplace in order to identify valuable ideas that fit the needs of the organization and that can help keep the organization “ahead of the wave.” All too often, organizational groups rely primarily on ideas generated inside the organization, instead of capitalizing on ideas from both inside and outside the organization.  A team should evaluate how it is sharing its innovation strategy with its partners, as well as how it is encouraging and rewarding its partners for sharing ideas.  Again, remember that innovation is a contact sport!

Are you Innovating with Meaning by utilizing Innovation Rewards and Recognition and maximizing the use of External Stakeholder Innovation?

Blog Co-Authors:

Dr. Alex Pattakos is the author of Prisoners of Our Thoughts ( and Elaine Dundon is author of The Seeds of Innovation (  They are co-authors of Innovating with Meaning (forthcoming).

About the author

A proud Greek-American (of Cretan heritage), Alex Pattakos Ph.D., has been described as a “Modern-Day Greek Philosopher.” Also nicknamed "Dr. Meaning," he is focused on bringing meaning to work, the workplace, and into everyday life.