Coach for Innovation

Sunday's Coach for Innovation show Fast Track Innovation: Five Actions for Pacing It Right with guest Mike Alvarado, president of Going Evergreen (, provided listeners with an opportunity to get a better feel for the practical aspects of innovation. One of my questions posed to Mike was "What five actions can business leaders and catalysts take to fast track innovation in their organizations?" Below was his response - five actionable ways to drive innovation inside your organization, business unit, department and teams.

1.  Engage early and often. Encourage the innovative cohort to challenge their concepts, conclusions, and assumptions, often and with the insight of others.

2.  Address fears and barriers to challenges. Address fears making it less likely challenging assumption will be embraced. To play their transforming role, challenges must be welcomed with a spirit of seeking out every dimension of value and utility. Barriers to challenges are built one fear at a time so a step-by-step deconstruction may be required.

3.  Allocate resources for personal expression. Allocate resources enabling innovators to express themselves, seek and engage challenges, and transform interaction into the next set of useful concepts, ideas, challenges, etc.

4.  Experiment with your environment. Consider the environment in which innovation takes place; experiment with new locations, workspaces, outcomes to achieve, arrangement of corridors, walkways, and meeting rooms.

5. Leverage the use of language. Use language to concentrate everyone on problem definition. Truly identifying problems is the hard work. Separating real from false problems is a difficult challenge. People can get lost from not knowing where and what the real problems are. Good solutions emanate from solid problem definition. Putting a lot of the most effort into perceptively and accurately thinking about and defining problems. Poor problem specification is a leading indicator of innovation failure. Use different language to move participants into a more innovative problem-solving context. Language is vital to distinguishing the truly important, as well as delivering motivation for acting on the insight.

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