How to Ideate, Innovate, and disrupt

Ideate, innovation, and disruption are vital contributors for companies day to day activities, new opportunities, and securing its future.

Definition of Ideate, Innovation, and disruption

Before I share with you my experience on how to do those three components, let me start with their definitions.
Ideate is the process of coming with new ideas on how to perform current activities better. It can be a new idea or a change in business process or technology. In a nutshell, this activity will usually make your operation more efficient. It is also one of the activity that it easy to get support around since it is not introducing significant change.

Innovation is the process of coming with something completely new. It can be new technology, new business process or even new business. Innovation keeps competitive advantage or creates a competitive advantage. The innovation outcome introduces more profound change, and therefore, it’s harder for people to participant or support innovation.

Disruption is the same process as innovation, but with a different goal. The goal of disruption is to shake the entire industry (including your company) with a new business or new solution that will turn you to be the leader of the industry. As its name implies, disruption is creating chaos (that your company is going to take advantage of). Few are the people that fill be confidant to disrupt, mainly when the disruption kills an old business.

How to ideate

Let me start with a comment that applies to the three components. They all required an environment that is more tolerant of taking risks and making mistakes. They are all also need as less as possible implicit and explicit fear. I know that risk-averse, implicit and explicit fear and no tolerance to making a mistake (talking about the benefit of making a mistake, but punishing someone when a mistake happened is NOT tolerance for mistakes) exist in most of today’s organizations.

Therefore the first step is, based on your organization, to create the needed environment. It might be acknowledging fear or risk-averse as obstacle and resolve them, or creating a new environment that provides the right atmosphere. I hardly saw or heard about groups that asked to implement any of the above components in a toxic environment and succeeded. Ideate, by the way, is the most common component that will be expected to operate in a toxic environment (and sometimes even fix the toxicity).

The best way to implement ideate is to ask the group who wants to be part of a group that is going to focus on improving. Engage just people that want to be part of a change. If it is successful, it will attract others.

Once you have a group, ask for ideas for improvement and let the group prioritize the ideas. Many tools can be used to facilitate this exercise. Once there is a prioritized list, the real test began.

Pick the first element in the list and try to implement it. Don’t be afraid of failure. If the first one fails, move to the next one. Failure will happen at one point. Accepting it and moving forward is an important message.

Once one of the ideas in the prioritizes list successfully implemented aks again who wants to join you. You’ll have more people now and bolder and better ideas. If you will not implement one idea or you’ll break down in the first failure, no ideate will be done anymore. Ideate is a very tedious process that takes time and effort. Be patient and persistent. Nothing come in life easily.

How to Innovate

Innovation is a reword for certain people (like me 🙂 ), so start innovation by identifying those people and invite them to begin the innovation process. There are two ways to address innovation. You can look for technologies that will create new value or will reduce current effort, or you can think about new business processes or new businesses. Each one of those options required an understanding of business strategy. So the first step in innovation is understanding of the business strategy.

I learned that it is better to start working in a close group and try different options until one of the options shows signs of becoming a promising opportunity. This tactic reduces the awareness of all associates to the number of potential options for change. As a result, the level of resistance and stress is reducing significantly company wise.

Once an innovative idea has proven valuable, I’ll engage more people by asking for people that want to be part of the innovation process. The best way to engage more people is to add them to an experiment group that test, give feedback and ideas to refine the fundamental innovation.

After a long process of refining, adjusting, and testing; the function in the company that is responsible for change management needs to be involved and to communicate the future change to all associate.

What usually happened in this process is that the testers and refiners of the idea speak about it with passion. Their passion attracts others and also prepare others for the change.

How to Disrupt

Most of the time, disruption starts as an innovation that in some point of time realized as a potential disruption. Once recognized a dedicated group of people should handle disruption outside of the motherhood company. Disruption is carried too much hatred from the current business, and they will do whatever they can to kill the new threat!

Setting dedicated business entity and locating it in a separate location far away from the motherhood company is the best way to protect disruption. The description group might and should have members from the motherhood company, but they should be dedicated to the new business.

Don’t underestimate the motivation, commitment, and effort that people will put in place to protect what they are familiar with. Trying to grow disruption inside the company that is going to be disrupted is a recipe for failure. It’s better to leave the old company and slowly move people to the new company as it starts to gain more and more momentum.

I’m not familiar with best practices for disruptive teams, but I might be wrong. I believe it depends on the people in the group and the dynamic between them. Disruptive groups are very much like start-ups. They have their own culture and dynamic created by the core group that starts the endeavor. The best advice that I can give is to give autonomy to the disruptive team and watch them from outside, as long as they are showing progress.


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