Learn how to innovate from the 1,000 greatest innovations in history
American software company Autodesk examined the 1,000 greatest innovations in human history to find out what real innovation is and how to do it. Innovation Strategist Bill O’Connor reveals the results and how to innovate your business.
Innovation is necessary for businesses to survive and be competitive today. But the word innovation has become a meaningless buzzword that companies see as more or less important, according to Bill O’Connor. Therefore he and his team at Autodesk have examined what real innovation is and how to do it by looking for commonalities in the greatest innovations in history. Bill defines innovation as follows:
“Innovation is the act of establishing something new or different out in the real world that has a significant impact.”
With this definition Bill O’Connor initiates his presentation on innovation at the Nordic Delivery Conference 2016, he says that you are not innovating unless you are trying to create something new or different. It is precisely the creation of the innovation, and not the innovation itself that was the focus of Bill O’Connor’s study “The Autodesk Innovation Genome Project”. It was here that both Bill and his team examined all types of innovations with the aim to identify a common set of work practices that can be used to create innovation across all industries today, including logistics, warehousing, distribution and multi-channel retailing
The results showed that there are five common things that innovators throughout history have done consistently to create ground-breaking innovations. Bill O’Connor calls this “The five essential innovation techniques”. In the video below you can see how he presented these techniques at the Nordic Delivery Conference 2016.
Bill O’Connor encourages you to work with innovation as an integral part of your workday instead of just doing it a few times a year. This can be done through short and effective innovation meetings with your colleagues every week where the five innovation techniques are included as common practice.
“If you and your colleagues want to innovate, you have to use the widest range of ideas and create wild ideas that are also practical. If you are willing to devote just 1% of your weekly working hours to innovation, this equals 21 minutes per week. For example, these can be scheduled as innovation meetings every Tuesday from 10:00-10:21. Although these will be very short meetings, it is guaranteed that you will get results out of these innovation meetings instead of just talking about innovation in passing.
Innovation step-by-step by Bill O’Connor
Go through the five essential innovation techniques in this order:
- Innovation environment – briefly describe your business, customers, competitors and the context in which innovation is desired.
- Innovation targets – formulate 3-5 targets in various areas of the company that you want to achieve through innovation e.g. “How can we use the Internet of Things to establish a new competitive advantage for Autodesk?”
- Innovation ideas – generate ideas for the desired innovation target through these 7 questions:
- What could we look at in a new way, or from a new perspective?
- What could we use in a new way, or for the first time?
- What could we move, changing its position in time or space?
- What could we interconnect in a different way, or for the first time?
- What could we alter or change, in terms of design and performance?
- What could we make, creating something that is truly new?
- What could we imagine to create a great experience for someone?
- Innovation prioritization – prioritize your innovation ideas according to how wild they are and how doable they are on a scale of 1-10. Your ideas should be at least 7/7 on the scale, so they are both wild and doable.
- Innovation projects – in the end realize your innovation through the seven phases:
- Brilliant description
- Thought experiment
- Threat assessment
- Boss approval
- Iteration and improvement
- Finalisation and launch
- Ongoing innovation