An interesting innovation discussion

An interesting exchange online happened last week after the wonderful Robert Brook posted a piece on his site entitled ‘Boring Innovation‘ – all about how innovation can best happen within large, complex organisations, like those you tend to find in government.

It’s well worth reading in full, here’s a snippet:

How about this: a two-pronged approach. Introduce, recognise and support innovative thinking within the existing processes – and, separately, set up a sandboxed arms-length entity to take on the risk. But, make that sandbox small and real – very quick turnover of work, short iterations, very tight on the money.

This was quickly picked up on by James Gardner, CTO of the DWP and author of several publications on innovation (he got the link via another post by Stefan – everything’s linked these days).

James writes:

Everyone thinks innovatively all the time, whether they know it or not. But when it comes down to the press of doing the day job, versus changing it to accommodate innovation, most people will just do what they have always done…

That’s why you need an innovation unit, whether you bought it or grew it yourself. The name of the game is about starting lots of little, new projects. Without waiting for that random blue-bird superstar performer who can do it without any help at all.

Genuinely, how great is it that this debate is being held, in the open, online so that everyone can share in what is being said, and contribute to, if they choose to.

This is exactly the sort of thing I was talking about in my discussion about the blogosphere. it’s great to see people like Robert and James being so actively involved like this – and as per my earlier post, Alistair and Carl too.