Innovation - Every company needs new ideas to stay relevant

A recent article written by Rachel Siverman of the WSJ outlines the need and importance of innovation....

"Not every company is led by a visionary like recently retired Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs. But nearly every company needs to come up with new ideas to stay relevant.
Developing new ideas involves a certain amount of experimentation and failure, as well as prioritizing of the most promising ideas.
Management scholars, who have spent years studying what drives creativity within companies, say there are specific ways firms can generate ideas and execute new products.
"Apple's success doesn't have to be a mystery to us," says Vijay Govindarajan, a professor of global business at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and former chief innovation consultant at General Electric Co. "It can be replicated."
Mr. Jobs is known for being deeply involved in the creation and development of his company's products. But in many highly innovative companies, great ideas come from all levels of an organization, not just from the top, experts say. At most companies, the problem is, employees have little input.
Driving Innovation
Management experts say there are specific ways firms can generate and execute new ideas.
• Solicit input. Great ideas come from all levels of the organization, not just from the top.
• Provide workers time for "unofficial activity," set time to work on creative ideas.
• Executing ideas is often tougher than generating them. Companies need a clear process to prioritize, resource and test ideas quickly and cheaply, so that they can afford to experiment.
Research has found that the average U.S. employee's ideas, big or small, are implemented only once every six years, says Alan G. Robinson, a professor at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. More innovative companies typically implement far more employee ideas, Dr. Robinson says.
Senior leadership is still important: There need to be forward-thinking leaders who "allow for the culture of ideas to percolate up," says Dr. Robinson. That means providing time, staff, funding and other resources for new ideas to be executed.
Some companies, such as Google Inc., provide workers time for "unofficial activity"—set time to work on creative ideas. Giving employees time for open-ended ideas can be expensive, especially with many companies short-staffed, but it may pay off. "When managers cut to the bone, one of the things they stifle is innovation," says Dr. Robinson." see more at