Failing Brilliantly

By Greg Holden, Business Writer & Social Media Manager, IRI

The mantra “fail fast, fail often” has almost become cliché in industry, yet it is a concept that innovation leaders still struggle to implement effectively at their firms. It is not hard to see why. Failure is difficult for everyone, even when they are told it’s no big deal. Tony Singarayar, Founding Partner of Analogy Partners, LLC, touched on this during a panel discussion at an IRI meeting when he spoke about the problems that can arise when innovation leaders get moved up from a research position to a management role. He said, “What’s the cost of failing? Even though the company says, ‘Oh, fail fast, fail often. No problem. You’re an investment not a failure.’ It feels like a failure when you fail… so how do we really make these people feel like investments and not failures?”

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Building a Culture of Innovation

By Jim Euchner, VP, Global Innovation, Goodyear, and RTM Editor-in-Chief

People will work long hours, climb over steep obstacles, and endure a lot of frustration to innovate if they believe they have a real chance to create something new. An organization can be said to have a culture of innovation when it supports those people and makes it possible for bold new things to happen with some regularity. Alas, in many organizations, it is almost impossible to be truly innovative. There are too many layers of organizational defense preventing it.

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Managing Culturally Diverse Teams

When French company Groupe Bull prepared to merge with American firm Zenith Data Systems, American and French engineers working for Bull discussed the difficulties of working with each other. As the Americans saw it, their French colleagues took an “analysis paralysis” approach to problem solving: They insisted on analyzing the problem completely and correctly before taking any action. Americans, in the French engineers’ view, insisted on action from the start, often at the expense of fully understanding the problem.

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Changing the Culture of R&D

By Tamara Carleton, CEO and Founder, Innovation Leadership Board, LLC; William Cockayne, CEO and Founder, Lead|X; and, Yuriko Sawatani, Professor, Center for Leadership Strategy, Waseda University

Whether it’s open innovation, portfolio management, or customer-centered innovation, implementing any new innovation framework often means changing an organization’s culture. This special issue focuses on the underlying issues that frequently lead good initiatives to stumble: How do you change culture to support change?

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Balancing personnel needs in your innovation culture

By Ed Bernstein, President, Industrial Research Institute

Perhaps the most poorly understood aspect of innovation is the culture that enables (or inhibits) it within an organization. What element differentiates between companies who continually innovate and companies that simply cannot, despite their best efforts? Over the years, IRI’s practitioner-based journal, RTM, has printed several answers to this question and a review of this work approaches the best analysis.

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The 5 Traits R&D Practitioners Look for in an Innovator

What makes someone an innovator? Is it merely a creative individual with lots of ideas? Perhaps. Many will tell you, however, that creativity is only a part of the puzzle and ideas are innovative only if they lead to a practical application. Innovation, after all, is not just creatively thinking things up; it is acting on those ideas and creating something useful from them. Is an innovator someone who breaks down barriers, resists authority, and walks his or her own path? R&D rebels, mad scientists, skunk works, and R&D undergrounds all emerge because at some point this type of innovator is necessary. But such work and such people are often the exception not the rule. So what is it, what makes someone an innovator?

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