Organizations seeking to foster innovation must resist the temptation to make it solely the domain of specialized programs or tools, and instead focus on creating the conditions that allow innovation to occur and thrive.

Before embarking on an investigation of these conditions, it is helpful to start with a definition.

Innovation is the use of creative insights to combine, leverage, and develop knowledge and resources that are hidden, disconnected and/or not well understood in order to extract value. Innovation is distinct from invention: it is more about prospecting, mining, refining and adding value to gold than it is about alchemy. (credit to Bill Buxton for the analogy)

Given this definition it easy to see why most innovation happens where perspectives, knowledge, and resources are allowed and encouraged to interact and combine. As such, the desire for innovation is deeply served by collaboration.

Collaboration is a process through which people that see different aspects of a problem can constructively explore their differences, look beyond their own limited vision of what is possible, and create solutions that did not exist before and could not have been achieved by any individual alone.

With this as a backdrop, I would like to explore 9 contributing factors in catalyzing and sustaining innovation:

I’ll post my thoughts on each of these factors over the next two weeks, and finish the series by sharing how we use applied collaboration to help our clients bring these factors to life within their organizations.

Do these definitions resonate with you? Are there important factors I may be missing?

Start with my post on the first three contributing factors –>