When people approach our organization—Brave New Workshop Creative Outreach—to work with them on their innovation programs, the first step is always to simply set up a call to get to know them and their situation. For more than 15 years I have started with the same question: “Can you tell me a little bit about your current innovation program?”
Although I have posed that question more than one thousand times to thousands of different people in hundreds of different industries and organizations whose programs varied in their degree of development, the answers seem to have much in common and are startlingly consistent. Let's see if I can paraphrase what I've heard:
Recently the leader of our organization decided that innovation is absolutely the most important part of our [insert principles, values, directives, mission, values statement, strategy, or beliefs]. The whole company knows that innovation is important because last quarter our leader gave a presentation and the third slide in the 161-slide presentation stated that innovation is the key to our success. She even represented how important it was by illustrating it with a [insert pillar, pyramid, photo of a light bulb with a question mark in it, or quote from Steve Jobs]. In response, we have built our innovation program.
So far we have hired a chief innovation officer ...