Laws of Innovation

On the heels of the very rapid failure of the HP TouchPad, Phil McKinney, CTO at HP, has offered 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation:

1)      The Law of Leadership: Executive level support (Board, CEO and his/her direct reports) is critical for an organization that wants to have innovation at is core…

2)      The Law of Culture: Establishing and nurturing an innovation culture sets the foundation for the organization…

  • People: Every person feels ownership of the innovation agenda and is quipped and skilled to have impact.
  • Ideas: Ideas are actively solicited from all sources and valued and nurtured not criticized or minimized.
  • Alignment: All resources are aligned against the innovation agenda to ensure everyone is pulling the same direction.
  • Communication: Communication that is clear, honest, respectful and transparent is essential for teamwork and establishing trust within the organization.

3)      The Law of Resources: Innovation requires a committed level of resources (people, money, time, equipment) over an extended period of time…

4)      The Law of Patience: Innovation takes time.  More time than is expected…

5)      The Law of Process:  To succeed at innovation, organizations need an innovation process that fits and works within their organization and culture…

6)      The Law Of BHAG:  What is a BHAG?  A BHAG is “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”.  It’s what leadership lays out as the innovation agenda.  The BHAG sets a clear and compelling target…

7)      The Law Of Execution: The ability to execute on the both the innovation agenda and the quarterly objectives of the operating business is a key skill that the organization needs to have.  Focusing on only one area of execution leaves the other to flounder.  Segmenting the execution roles into separate silos works against the Law of Culture.

I buy into these with some caveats.  I’ve seen worthwhile projects fail to succeed due to violations of one or more of these laws.  However, in regards to rules 4 through 7, projects must achieve reasonable milestones to continue.  In this business climate no one is going to pay for innovation for the sake of innovation.  Having said that killing projects too early (rule 4) will never lead to commerical success.

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