Food for Thought

Good Questions

A good start for anyone interested in examining their own corporate innovation culture is being offered by Professor Meissner. [1]

Meissner's Good Questions:

  1. Is someone responsible for „innovation“? Is there a common definition of “innovation”? A strategy? A tangible process of any sort? Does an active functional differentiation with the goal of managing innovation exist?
  2. Are ressources for innovating available? Not only financial ressources, but also and especially human ressources, infrastructure and interlacing capabilities.
  3. Are there real and virtual locations, where innovation is not only explicitly welcome, but where innovation is the guiding theme? A physical room where to go, for example? Do your employees have the possibility and freedom to step out of their daily business for a moment in favour of pursuing innovation?
  4. Are all potentially interested and capable employees connected to your innovative processes? Do they have access to the necessary information? Is there maybe something like “open spaces”, where they can meet and work together on innovation topics?
  5. Does your organisation permit to be questioned, to be thrown into doubt by stimuli from within and without? Is being questioned sanctified and not being punished by the organisation?
  6. Do slack resources exist? What happens to the “bed-, bathroom- and bus-ideas” of your employees?
  7. Are management practices in effect that unconsciously do impede innovation? e.g. by obstructing permeability between structural units of the organization or by inflexible allocation of ressources? Is outside-the-box thinking being choked, opressed?
  8. Is the organisation aware of and focused to the need to innovate? Usually this question can be further specified, by not asking “is” but “where is”.

Good Advice

Abstracty speaking, but no less valuable for that, Meissner [2] states:

  1. Erratic action is better than orderly passiveness. For it will show faster what works, how it works, and how to best implement something.
  2. The map is the ground! Contrary to the conventional perception that the map is not the ground, Weick is pointing out the benefit of a map: The plan for action as such is already charting the path to follow on the ground. The map stands for the mental concepts of an organization and its members who act according to their preconceptions and is thus bestowing significance upon actions […].
  3. No one ever does anything alone. […] There is no escape and no outrunning from the social fabric.

Twelve search strategies offered by the British Advanced Institute of Management Research: [3]

  1. Send out innovation scouts: Dispatch idea hunters to track down new innovation triggers.
  2. Explore multiple futures.
  3. Use the web: Harness the power of the web, through online communities, and virtual worlds, for example, to detect new trends.
  4. Work with active users: Team up with knowledgeable product and service users to see the ways in which they change and develop existing offerings.
  5. Study what people actually do, rather than what they say they do.
  6. Probe and learn: Get the hands dirty early on, by prototyping quickly and often rather than spending ages planning.
  7. Mobilise the mainstream: Activate users within the workforce – bring them into the product and service development process.
  8. Create venture units and give them sufficient freedom and resources to do their job.
  9. Corporate entre- and intrapreneuring: Discover and nurture the entrepreneurial talent inside the organisation.
  10. Use brokers and bridges: Cast the ideas net far and wide; plunder other industries.
  11. Unleash diversity: Create diverse teams and a diverse workforce to help challenge your assumptions.
  12. Idea generators: Use idea generators and creativity tools, and in a way that encourages, rather than squashes, creativity.


RSA-Animate/Daniel Pink: Drive - The surprising truth about what really motivates us

Motivation and creativity: Where to dangle the carrot? And what kind of carrot? A short video in english (about 10 minutes). Entertaining and well informed advice:
RSA-Animate production by www.theRSA.org. Taken from here with kind permission.

Source: theRSA.org, published under the "open access license for RSA public events content" which is displayed hier.


  • [1] Meissner, Jens O. (2011), S. 108 ff, with the author's kind permission. The book (german).
  • [2] Meissner, Jens O. (2011), S. 110 ff, with the author's kind permission. The book (german).
  • [3] Bessant, J., von Stamm, B. (2007): Executive Briefing. Is discontinuous innovation on your corporate radar? Twelve search strategies that could save your organisation. With the author's kind permission. aim RESEARCH.

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