Beware innovation ‘best practice’

One size doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to innovation. “Innovation, the endless effort to find a better way, cannot be achieved by robotically lining up best practices and imitating them”, says innovation expert and author, Mitch Ditkoff. “The real catalysing agent for innovation is the ground from which these best practices spring – the confluence of purpose, people, and processes better known as culture.” What if your innovation best practices are actually hurting your efforts, asks Stephen Shapiro in his new book, Best Practices are Stupid: 40 ways to out-innovate the competition. Shapiro, who established and led a 20,000-person innovation practice at Accenture, agrees with Ditkoff that ‘best practice’ for its own sake can be counterproductive. “There are times when replicating what has worked elsewhere is useful…as long as you understand the context, he told Matthew May. “Blindly using Google’s or Apple’s innovation approach could be a disaster if you have a completely different culture.” Innovation should be treated like any other part of the business to make it efficient and repeatable, he adds. “Most organisations are running around spending 60 minutes of their time on things that don’t matter. So clearly defining the challenge that people can rally around is important.” Innovation doesn’t need to be big-ticket or cost a bomb, David Armano, Executive Vice President, Global Innovation and Integration at Edelman Digital, argues. “Culture is more important than technology when it comes to innovation,” he says. “I’ve seen companies with state-of-the-art working spaces and those with just the basics in place and innovation happening at the latter. When it comes to pushing things even just a little, you don’t need the latest and greatest tech but you do need a fire in the belly which is shared by your peers.”

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