Breaking Down the Barriers to Innovation

Businesses aren’t getting the impact they want from innovation because of ‘the day-to-day routines and rituals that stifle innovation’. Every innovation practitioner has observed this as one factor (among many) that affects innovation outcomes. Their solution proposed seems reasonable. It’s a ’hack’ they call BEANs (shorthand for behavior enablers, artifacts, and nudges). A successful BEAN is:

Simple. Interventions that are easy to adopt and remember gain traction much more quickly. Fun. … engaging and social … Trackable. .. monitor performance and compare it against that of others … Practical. … smoothly integrated into existing meetings and processes and don’t require major changes or entirely new routines. Reinforced. … physical and digital reminders to keep using the new habits. Organizationally consistent.

These are change rituals with easy interventions that promote the behaviors you desire. None of these rituals are new, indeed they have been extensively researched and written about elsewhere (e.g. nudges) and proven effective.  The benefit of a BEAN is that it integrates different techniques into a somewhat pre-packaged construct that can be easily delivered and applied.

The primary example given is of a Singaporean company that had a very poor culture made visible by their meetings (no agendas, little communication, poor decision mechanisms etc.).  The solution was to create a BEAN that would radically change the nature of meetings, the result being not just more efficient meetings but changes in attitude and behavior.

Company culture change, especially for innovation and to create an innovative mindset, is extremely important. BEANs seem like a useful ‘hack’ (to use the authors own term) that can contribute to this. It should be noted, however, that a) they are not all that is available – there is much that has been written about culture change and other methods that can be used, b) BEANs are not all that will be needed and b) BEANs aren’t necessarily specific to innovation, they have just as much applicability to operational excellence culture as well. As long as these caveats are acknowledged, go ahead and try them.

Original Article »

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