Make Innovating Simpler [Yes And Blog 150]

“As innovation becomes a management discipline there is a danger that it is seen as the end, rather than the means”

John Brooker

 Want to make innovating simple again?

shutterstock_biking on snow

I was out riding my bike recently when I found I could not use any gear above number eight, so instead of twenty-four gears through three front cogs, I had just eight gears on one. I couldn’t fix it myself and didn’t have time to take it to the repairers so carried on using it.

I am no Bradley Wiggins (Olympic cycling gold medallist and winner of  the Tour de France) and after a couple of rides, I noticed that the lack of gears was not causing me much of a problem, apart from going down steep hills where I could not pick up as much speed.

After noticing that, I compared the enforced simplicity of my gearing with how complex innovation seems to have become.

I appreciate there are some organisations that need more sophisticated approaches, just like the Tour de France needs more complex bikes. I am also sure most organisations could cope with a simpler approach. In fact, many could cope with just three “innovation gears” if they had the nerve to get on the “bike”.


In the spirit of keeping it simple, here is my three gear approach to help your people innovate. The three gears are, Climate, Model and Tools.

Create and nurture the right climate to encourage collaboration

When you wish people to be more collaborative and creative you need to create a macro-climate within the organisation and a micro-climate within meetings.

Here are several actions you might take to make this happen:

  • Create “Flow”[1]
  • Provide Autonomy
  • Encourage Creativity
  • Allow Time for Creativity
  • Build Trust & Openness
  • Promote Playfulness and Humour
  • Foster Open Debate
  • Accept Constructive Failure
  • Make the Workplace Dynamic
  • Reduce Interpersonal Conflict
  • Enable Open Communication

For a more in-depth article about climate, go here, search bottom right of the page and download it.

Use a structured innovation model to build creative solutions that gain a “Yes! And…” response

Someone in a client company once said to me that they “have no problems getting ideas, but implementing them is difficult”. That is true. However, if you use a better model to create and think through the solution prior to implementation, many of the implementation issues will disappear.

Here is my eight-stage model:

  1. Sense Opportunities
  2. Explore Opportunity
  3. Clarify Opportunity
  4. Create Propositions
  5. Hone Proposition
  6. Shape Strategy
  7. Foster Acceptance
  8. Plan Sprint Actions

You can read more about our Inn8 Approach here, or download the article “Innovate With Less Risk”.

Have a comprehensive toolkit to facilitate logical and creative thinking

Many people, who are more logical and structured thinkers, think they cannot think creatively, yet they can if they use tools that help to stimulate creative ideas.

Many people, who are more creative thinkers, believe they cannot evaluate or plan the implementation of their ideas. In fact, by using the available tools, they can evaluate and plan well.

You should build a toolkit of creative and structured thinking tools to use in your organisation. You can search and download tools here by clicking on the magnifying glass.

Take a Small Action

There you have an approach to help make innovating simpler in your organisation. As innovation becomes a management discipline there is a danger that people see it as the end, rather than the means. There is also the danger that it will be seen as a job for specialists rather than the whole company. That would be a shame.

Think through your approach to innovating. Is it becoming too complex, too specialised? How might you make it simpler and more, dare I say it, enjoyable?

[1] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi developed the original concept of “flow” and explained it in his book “Flow”. (Rider; New edition 1 Aug 2002 ISBN-13: 978-0712657594)

Enjoy your week.

John Brooker I Yes! And. Think Innovatively.

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About the Author

John Brooker is a former Senior Vice President and innovator in Visa and is now the MD of Yes! And, where he has worked internationally with multicultural teams since 2001. John has developed his Inn8® Approach to help teams maximise opportunities innovatively. You can listen to a client discuss this approach at our website, .
John is an Open University MBA and tutored on the OU MBA Creativity, Innovation and Change course for 14 years. He is a director of the international Association for Solution Focus In Organisations.