SpoolCast: Creating a Culture of Innovation with Scott Berkun

Jared Spool

August 12th, 2008

SpoolCast: Creating a Culture of Innovation with Scott Berkun
Recorded: July 23rd, 2008
Brian Christiansen, UIE Podcast Producer
Duration: 31m | File size: 17.5 MB
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[ Text Transcript Available. ]


“We’re struggling with how to measure how well we are innovating […] Are we innovating better this year than last year? How would I know?”

If you work in a larger company and you haven’t heard a statement like this, you’re going to. Innovation has become such a buzzword, it’s nearly meaningless. But that doesn’t mean innovation itself is dead. In this week’s show, we sat down with Scott Berkun, the dynamic speaker and author of “The Myths of Innovation.

Innovation is critical, but it’s not being defined for those folks challenged with implementing it. Innovation is hard work. Scott asks that we face facts here; to find big, new ideas that will change things for the better will never be easy.

OK, how do we innovate? Scott suggests that the key word is risk. The best organizations (Google, Apple, Pixar and 3M are offered as examples) promote this through a culture where it’s OK to take risks, where failure is acceptable if valuable lessons can be learned. Whenever risks can be taken in a safe environment innovation is much more likely to be successful.

Often times middle management is actually the key to fostering this environment. They see the organizational “big picture” and can shield the front line workers who are challenged with focusing on the work. It allows for in-house entrepreneurship, allowing for creativity and flexibility outside of their traditional responsibilities. Google’s “20% time” is a popular example of time where employees can branch out on self-made projects. In Google’s case, it gave birth to products like GMail.

Innovation happens in both small and large organizations, but in large companies, it takes dedicated resources, and the expectation of some amount of failure. Scott has found that in organizations resistant to change, you can find success in pitching that innovation is the tradition of the company.

As for Innovation and User Experience, in the early design stage there’s a delicate balance between collecting data from users and knowing where to take calculated risks that may run counter to the data. When taking a different approach, don’t be afraid to step out on a limb. Then test to see if it works.

Of course, this is just a taste of the half hour discussion we had, so you’ll want to listen to the entire thing to get the most of Scott’s insights on the subject.

[ You can hear Scott Berkun speak more about Innovation at the User Interface 13 Conference in Cambridge, MA — October 13-16, 2008. The structure of his workshop, The Myths of Innovation: How to Lead Breakthrough Projects, will be broken out into the following:
• What does a breakthrough mean?
• Training from the history of great innovation
• Jargon and terms in the business of innovation, and how to deal with them
• Creative thinking
For more information about UI13, check out our conference site, UIConf.com ]

Does your organization foster innovation as well as it could? Share your questions and experiences with innovation in the comments.

5 Responses to “SpoolCast: Creating a Culture of Innovation with Scott Berkun”

  1. A Key Component in Innovation: Risk : Innovation 3 Says:

    […] You can listen to a 30 minute interview with Berkun here. […]

  2. Inder P Singh Says:

    Thanks for the post!

    This post starts with a mention of the measurement of innovation. Since no examples of such measures are given, I think it will be appropriate to suggest a few candidate measures:
    1) Revenues from repeat orders or new products launched by the organization
    2) Employee satisfaction from internal surveys
    3) Referrals from existing customers
    4) Reduction in cost of production/ quality

  3. scottberkun.com » Interview w/Jared Spool, on Innovation (Podcast) Says:

    […] can listen to the podcast (MP3), subscribe to UIE’s podcasts or read the text […]

  4. Roxana Patrichi Says:

    An interesting view on innovation on a an even higher level may be found in the work of 2thinknow.com – they have really interesting criteria on analyzing the level of innovation of cities, organizations or groups, so it’s food for thought on the subject: http://www.2thinknow.com/Publications/Innovation_Publications_by_Topic/Global_Innovation_Review.htm

  5. A Key Component in Innovation: Risk : Innovation3 Gathering - connect with 100s of innovative church leaders Says:

    […] You can listen to a 30 minute interview with Berkun here. […]

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