Zoe Aitken17 December 2019

14 Days of Innovation

I always find it liberating to think that a new year is often a chance for us to set and achieve some really inspirational goals. Perhaps it is a side effect of the hectic year-end schedule of Christmas functions, demanding work deadlines and the impending forced time with some interesting family members!

In addition to health and fitness goals, many of us also set some career goals for the year. And we decide to read some great books to get a head start for the year ahead. Over the past year, I have read many books, articles and listened to many podcasts on innovation, leadership, creativity and strategy.

One book stood out for me this year, because it summarised all the insights I had learnt throughout the year into a pragmatic guide to drive innovation at every level of an organisation. So whether you are a senior leader or just starting out, the ‘Innovation Formula’, is a great summer read to help you see how you can improve innovation culture at an individual, team, leadership and organisational level.

The a-ha moments will be many and perhaps also a chance to reminisce and listen to their one hit wonder, Take on Me!. But be sure, the key insights from this book are not one hit wonders. I am always drawn back to the book to get easy to implement ideas to help people and organisations drive growth through innovation.

Inspired by the 12 days of Christmas, or maybe intoxicated by too many Mariah Carey christmas songs, I have created the 14 days of innovation song to help you in building a culture where innovation thrives based on the 14 science based keys.

On the first day of innovation, my true boss gave to me……….

DAY 1: A challenge which was optimal for me.
Match the level of challenge to an individual’s skills and provide support to meet the challenge

DAY 2: Two must-haves
Provide freedom & autonomy with clear goals.

DAY 3: Three bronze stars
Find opportunities to recognise innovation.

DAY 4: Four calling words
1. Breadth: Greater breadth of knowledge enhances creativity
2. Debate: Encourage debate to avoid group-think
3. Diversity: Job related diversity drives innovation
4. Relationships: Consider reverse mentoring programs

DAY 5: Five golden rules:
1. Break down organisational silos
2. Set up innovation champions to encourage collaboration
3. Build teams around project briefs
4. Allow newcomers to naturally collaborate with their choice of project
5. For a flexible working policy, have at least one non-flexible day per week to facilitate collaboration

DAY 6: Six pieces playing
Six important ingredients to improving the quality of interaction of a team are: communication; collaboration; mutual support; balance of member contributions; effort and cohesion.

DAY 7: Seven supervisors supporting
Supervisors who focus on both task and relationship-oriented behaviours drive innovation in their teams.

DAY 8: Eight leaders doing
Senior leaders that actually DO innovation as opposed to delegating create a committed innovation culture.

DAY 9: Nine percent microfunding
Setting aside time and money for innovation is key to forming an innovative culture. Microfunding (small amounts of money given to a large number of innovations that show promise) avoids the trap of over or under resourcing innovation.

DAY 10: Ten goals a-clearing
Leaders that set clear organisation wide goals for innovation keep people’s efforts focused and effective.

DAY 11: Eleven learning risks
Encouraging a risk taking culture where it is seen as an opportunity to learn is critical for building an innovation culture. Sharing failures is one way to create a culture where risk-taking is tolerated in pursuit of innovation.

DAY 12: Twelve teams together 
A feeling that everyone is on the same team is the most impactful driver of an innovation culture. Innovation programs themselves using cross functional teams can as a great unifier.

DAY 13: Thirteen votes from accounting
Inviting everyone to contribute to innovation helps build a strong innovation culture. A clearly communicated best practice innovation process helps everyone understand how they can easily contribute.

DAY 14: Fourteen new pot plants 
Bringing nature inside through natural light, views of greenery and indoor plants have a positive impact on innovation and wellbeing.