An interview with David Kester, Chief Executive, Design Council.

To foster a culture of innovation, managers must look outward to identify consumers’ problems and spark ideas for solving those problems. They must also ease employees’ fear of change.

Technology enables broader innovative business model possibilities — allowing us to enter other markets and secure new capabilities, for example — and causes us to start thinking about things we couldn’t do before that we can now.

Walt Disney


“My father was not a complicated man.”
Diane Disney Miller (daughter of Walt Disney)
If there is one way to foster innovation in your business, it is to be innovative yourself and to be straightforward.
In “Walt Disney: An American Original” by Bob Thomas, Diane Disney Miller says this about her dad:  “I think Dad was an easy read.  He didn’t want to be complicated.  He was always straightforward, never devious.  Not unless he could be devious in a constructive way.”  Diane continues,“We always ate dinner late, because Dad worked late at the studio.  He would tell about what he was doing, but he also wanted to know about our lives, too.  And he would listen.”
Did Walt Disney go through tough times with his business?  You bet.  Yet he did not let financial woes get in the way of fostering innovation.
“I’ve always been bored with just making money,” Walt once said.  “I’ve wanted to do things, I wanted to build things.  Get something going.  People look at me in different ways.  Some of them say, ‘The guy has no regard for money.’  That is not true.  I have had regard for money.  But I’m not like some people who worship money as something you’ve got to have piled up in a big pile somewhere.  I’ve only thought of money in one way, and that is to do something with it, you see?  I don’t think there is a thing that I own that I will ever get the benefit of, except through doing things with it.” 
Lesson:  To create a culture of innovation, be straightforward.  Listen.  Simplify.  Do things.  Build things.  Get something going.
Where some go for the intellect, Walt seemed to know how to tap into people’s emotions. 
Do you think innovation has a heart?

Samuel J. Palmisano

As Samuel J. Palmisano, ex Chairman and CEO of IBM Corporation says, “Few words are more ubiquitous in business or society today than ‘innovation.’  It’s rare to walk through an airport, watch an hour of television or pick up a major publication without running across it.  It’s on the minds of a growing number of CEOs, government officials, and academic and community leaders as they look for ways to survive and thrive in an increasingly complex and connected world.”
“We use the word at IBM, too – but that’s nothing new.  Innovation has been central to our company for nearly a century.  It’s the primary reason our clients do business with us, and the simplest and truest statement of IBM’s purpose in the world.  In fact, three years ago, IBM employees affirmed ‘innovation that matters – for our company and the world’ as one of our three core values.”
Innovation is no longer invention in search of purpose, no longer the domain of a solitary genius looking to take the world by storm.  Instead, innovation is increasingly global, multidisciplinary, collaborative and open.
Lesson:  To create a culture of innovation, connect globally; diversify your talent and expertise; work together in new and integrated ways.
How open are you with intellectual property and how often are you collaborating to create more value for your clients? 
If you could see innovation take place as a result, would you be inclined to share your interests, expertise and world view with others more often?

Steve Jobs

The King of Innovation as we know it, and we have witnessed the countless ways he has transformed Apple into an innovative, life-changing enterprise.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
He closes with, “Stay hungry.  Stay foolish.”
Lesson:  To create a culture of innovation, don’t live someone else’s life.  March to your own drum and beat it with all your might.
Are you following your heart and intuition on matters of innovation? 
If so, how?  If not, why?
Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.