Think about your organization for a moment and consider these two questions: How good is your organization at execution? How prepared do you feel your organization is to drive innovation?
If you’re like most people I pose these questions to, your answers to both probably fall somewhere around good, pretty good, or very good. But you might also add that you could stand to do better.
Most organizations want to consistently do innovation. Executives and managers feel it is critical to the success of their organization or business. But even though they know it is necessary to survive, many don’t know how to go about it.
Here’s one equation for innovation that I like:
Creativity x Execution = Innovation
A company may be able to execute, but without creativity there is no innovation. The same holds true for creative organizations that lack the ability to execute.
Let’s focus on creativity for a moment. The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, nicknamed the d.school teaches a method known as design thinking to their students as well as individuals from outside organizations.
I am currently a fellow at the d.school, spending an academic year expanding on and sharing my own understanding of innovation and design.
Design thinking is taught at the d.school as a five-stage process. It starts with developing empathy for your user and goes on to defining the problem, brainstorming potential solutions, rapidly prototyping one or more of those proposed solutions, and then testing that prototype with your user.
A new concept has emerged out of the d.school, however. It’s called creative confidence, and I think it better captures what organizations need to establish or grow their innovation capacity. Creative confidence is what design thinking brings to an organization.
I often find people believe innovation is about problem solving. Really though, innovation is about problem finding. There are countless problems to be solved, but only a fraction of those will lead to great innovations.
The term creative confidence was coined by David Kelley and his brother Tom. They released a book by that name. David, a Stanford professor, is the founder of both the world-renowned design firm IDEO and the d.school. Tom is a best-selling author and a partner at IDEO.
Innovation is also about education. This means organizations need to emphasize the value
of free and open learning and discovery. They should challenge employees to consistently seek out knowledge in order to help them identify new problems to solve.
If you want to do innovation, foster creative confidence within your organization. Focus on education and problem finding. The greatest innovations come not from process and execution, but from finding the relevant problem worth solving.