Posts By:  Alan

The Power of Idea Fairs thumbnail

Last week, Dean Schroeder and I were working in Sweden, studying the idea initiatives of government agencies at all levels, from Kommuns (the equivalent of county governments) to national level institutions like the Tax Authority, the Defense Department, and Immigration. Almost everywhere, the same concern came up: What can we do, as leaders in a government setting, to get our employees and managers on board with  »  Read More

How to Get Your Managers and Leadership Team on Board thumbnail

A few days ago, I was talking with the CEO of a large company in New England with almost 15,000 employees. A couple of years ago, he had started an idea system, and although things were progressing well, he felt that some members of his leadership team and a significant percentage of his managers weren’t yet on board with the system, and were only paying lip service to it. He had been gradually trying to hold them  »  Read More

Top-down Innovation is Orderly but Dumb thumbnail

One of my favorite sayings about innovation comes from Curtis Carlson, CEO of SRI International, “Top-down innovation is orderly but dumb, bottom-up innovation is chaotic but smart.” His observation is now informally known as “Carlson’s Law.” As readers of this blog already know, the same is also true of improvement, but for today, I would like to focus on innovation. The best evidence I am aware of for  »  Read More

Using Idea Activators to Help Your People Come Up With More Ideas thumbnail

When an organization starts a high-performing idea system, rarely is there a shortage of ideas. Ideas come from problems, and people are already aware of many obvious problems and opportunities. They just haven’t had the chance to correct them before. But after a while – six months, nine months, a year, depending on the circumstances – no matter how much they encourage their people, the most common concern we  »  Read More

Why Humility is a Prerequisite for Managers in Idea-Driven Organizations thumbnail

We recently asked the leaders of two idea-driven companies what was the most important characteristic they looked for when hiring or promoting managers. Their surprising answer: Humility. Inditex, best known for its Zara brand of “fast-fashion” stores, is headquartered in A Coruna, Spain, and is the world’s largest clothing company with over 6,000 stores in 70 countries. Zara’s business model is built around  »  Read More

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