118 Facilitate People to Innovate

The Creative Gorilla #118

How to facilitate people to innovate…

“The rules are simple, hit him, don’t let him hit you.”
Jackie Chan in “The Karate Kid”

Eight ways to facilitate innovation


How might you facilitate innovation?

I drove to Dublin in Ireland with a colleague to start a new Innovation Programme. After a long drive and with the prospect of a full day ahead we retired to our rooms at 8.30 pm, my head hit the pillow at 10 pm and I was asleep. Three hours later I was awoken by a loud crash, like someone throwing a collapsible table out of the window.

I dozed off, only to be startled by another loud crash. After the fourth time I realised it happened whenever a vehicle exited the hotel car park over a metal speed bump. This being a tourist hotel in Dublin I laid awake for most of the night as taxis came and went, drifting off around 4 a.m.

On the bright side I was able to relate this story to the group next day, using it to define business innovation as:

  • Find someone with a problem (crash!)
  • Identify if they are wiling to pay for a solution (I would happily pay!)
  • Develop a solution
  • Market it
  • Earn revenue

True, this is highly simplistic, but it can be useful to cut through complexity to the basic concept.


Whilst the concept of innovation is simple, implementing it is a little more difficult, so, here are eight ways to facilitate innovation in an organisation, based on my experience and reading:

Know what you want

  • Understand why you want to innovate and describe the future when your organisation is innovating well
  • Understand and measure the critical success factors to achieve this

Understand the prevailing innovation styles and creative climate you have in your organisation

  • You can find an  Inn8™ Climate tool and article here: http://ow.ly/ysOfA

Create a good flow of ideas

  • Use a structured approach to innovation. You can find a description of our Inn8™ Model here: http://ow.ly/ysOe8
  • Focus your idea scheme on desired innovation areas
  • Ensure people develop ideas and have them peer reviewed before submission to management
  • Allocate a day when people can work on any project or idea to innovate in the organisation (as an experiment, some companies have found this does not work for them)
  • Appreciate your department / organisation / management level don’t have all the ideas; seek ideas everywhere

Develop innovation skills

  • Teach people to use and facilitate the structured approach
  • Rotate people around job functions to expand their thinking

Adapt reward systems to encourage innovation

  • Set targets for revenue from new products (e.g. 25% revenue from products / services implemented in last three years)

Enhance communication

  • Facilitate communication with senior people and across functions
  • Enable informal opportunities to discuss (e.g. long tables in the cafeteria (as in Google)
  • Encourage networking

Encourage innovators

  • Identify the innovators and people who encourage innovation
  • Promote them to relevant positions where they influence innovation
  • Provide more freedom and autonomy for innovators (they tend to like this)

Have flexibility of funding as innovation can be difficult to budget for

  • Have a fund set aside for innovation type projects


  • Review the list above. What else would you add? Please let me know!
  • Where might your organisation improve?

To Close

I went with my son to see “The Karate Kid”. It has a great performance from Will Smith’s son Jaden, though it could benefit from twenty minutes of content editing.

I had to laugh when the Kid asked his instructor, nicely played by Jackie Chan, if he knew the rules of the tournament the Kid had to fight in. “Simple,” he replied, “hit him and don’t let him hit you.” (Click on the quotation to see a clip).

It’s almost as simple as innovation then.

Enjoy an innovative week. For more information on how you can help people innovate,  buy our book, “Innovate to Learn, Don’t Learn to Innovate” available on Amazon.

John Brooker I Collaborate, Innovate, Transform.

Speak: +44 208 8899990

Write: [email protected]

Read: www.yesand.eu