7 Rules of Innovation from “Making Innovation Work”

Making Innovation Work

Incorporate both negative and positive stimuli to identify what works best for your unique situation and group of employees, customers, and partners.                

Trae Tessmann|
August 8, 2016

Stop talking about innovation and get to work!


“Making Innovation Work”, authored by Tony Davila, Marc Epstein, and Robert Shelton, presents the strategies, parties, and tools necessary to drive profitable strategy and innovation throughout every department of any organization. From defining goals to building a productive culture, these are the principles that set up an organization to innovate effectively.


“Strong leadership that defines the innovation strategy, designs innovation portfolios, and encourages truly significant value creation”

You need to be transparent in the goals, scope, direction, and capabilities of your organization’s innovation efforts. If you’re looking to disrupt your industry with new product ideas, let everyone know. If you’re looking to improve your operation, let them know. People are far more likely to help out if they know what you’re looking for!


“Innovation is an integral part of the company’s business mentality”

Without a culture that promotes creativity and risk-taking, your chances of building an innovative workforce and attracting innovative talent are drastically lower. Successful companies preach innovation at all levels of their organization, and are constantly encouraging their employees to find ways to improve.


“Innovation is matched to the company business strategy including selection of the innovation strategy (play-to-win or play-not-to-lose)”

Playing to win with disruptive products and services or playing-not-to-lose with more modest, continuous improvement efforts both hold huge benefits and require specific commitments. But more innovation, especially to one side of the spectrum, is not always better. The secret is finding a balance that fits your specific offering and industry.


READ MORE: Best Practices for promoting Internal Innovation


“Balance creativity and value capture so that the company generates successful new ideas and gets the maximum return on its investment”

Encourage unique and game-changing ideas while providing context and scope to the solutions you’re really looking for. By providing at least minimal guidelines, you’ll be far more likely to receive actionable ideas, and participants will be more motivated to share, knowing their idea fits your standards.


“Neutralize organizational antibodies that kill off good ideas because they are different from the norm”

Make it as easy as possible to share ideas and collect at least some form of feedback. Necessitating change requires you to remove the barriers to challenging accepted practices, ideating on new solutions, and collaborating to validate those concepts. You can’t improve if you aren’t willing to make changes.


“Innovation networks inside and outside the organization because networks, not individuals, are the basic building blocks of innovation”

Support from managers, department heads are a necessary part of any innovation push, but so too is support between the parties involved. Conversations and collaboration between participants makes it both easier and more comfortable for them to share, improve, and support new concepts on their way to implementation.


“Correct metrics and rewards to make innovation manageable and to produce the right behavior”

Challenge everyone and identify your highest achievers with a variety of rewards to encourage participation not once, but over the long-term. Incorporate both negative and positive stimuli to properly identify what works best for your unique situation and group of employees, customers, and partners.



Employ the infrastructure to make innovation work at your organization.

About Trae Tessmann

Co-founder of Ideawake

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