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Trying to Create Tomorrow’s Company with Yesterday’s Rules and Tools: Part 2

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Last time we explored why Millennials won’t use the old Boomer innovation methods. This time we will discuss some of these new approaches to innovation, their uses and relative value.

Of course, the aforementioned are general observations about generational differences and not to be taken as true in all circumstances, locations or cases. The point is that these tendencies do represent some very distinct underlying principles of innovation that are quite different from those presently at work in most large scale companies.

So what are the underlying rules that inform these new approaches to innovation?

The collective is smarter than the individual
Values are more important than profits
Work happens globally and instantaneously
Traditional boundaries are spanned or ignored
Individuals are affiliated with multiple adjacent organizations
Important ideas are shared and intellectual property is redistributed
Derivative ideas and extensions of existing works are encouraged
Personal technology is used to remain in constant contact with pervasive networks
Play and work are indistinguishable aspects of a cosmopolitan lifestyle
Discrimination for whatever reason is unacceptable
This list may bring a sense of déjà vu for those who remember their own idealism at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius before their awakening to the mandates of crass materialism. While these first principles are not particularly unique or comprehensive they do suggest a general direction for what types of tools are preferred by this new breed of innovator.

All methods, techniques and processes have an implicit functional range much in the same way tools are effective only if they are used for their intended purpose. A hammer, saw and wrench all work superbly when used properly and according to their designed function but are quite destructive when in employed in the intended service of the others. This is why we keep a toolbox handy and are rightfully apprehensive of the claims of do-it-all devices.

These tools reflect the implicit bias of the new rules and share an inclination toward the communal, collaborative and immediate. The following is merely a sampler of relatively new innovation practices and is by no means exhaustive or even leading edge:

Collaborative Innovation Networks : An integrated network of self-motivated people with a collective vision who share ideas, information and work. Example: InnoCentive.
Creativity Clusters: Co-located innovation communities: Entrepreneurs, researchers, academics, service providers and investors. Example: The Miami Design District.
Crowd Funding: Raising capital for worthy projects by appealing to large groups for small amounts of money via the web. Example: Kiva.
Crowdsourcing : Engaging a large undefined group of people with an open call on the web to outsource or contract work traditionally performed by an employee. Example: Kickstarter.
Federated Organizations: Alliances of companies, not-for-profit organizations and symbiotic social networks of participating individuals that operate with a shared economic, political and social interest.
Idea Markets: Diverse constituencies vote on the best ideas and success scores tallied and tracked. Example: Spigit.
Innovation Tournaments: Teams compete in a game, with rules and a scoreboard, to determine the winning ideas, products and services. Example: X-Prize.
· Open Source Innovation: An approach to the design, development, and distribution of software and other products offering practical accessibility to source codes, methods and materials. Example: Creative Commons.
Trickle-Up Innovation: Creating an innovation in a developing region at very low cost and spreading it back to the industrialized world.
Worldwide Brainstorming: A large web based brainstorming session. Example: IBM Innovation Jam.
Developments in the use of big data, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and the explosion of cheap apps and ubiquitous bandwidth will make this list seem quaint in the very near future if not already. More so, advances in computer science and neurobiology suggest that the concept of innovation itself may be a relic of a bygone age as the ghost in the machine becomes the new creative tour de force.

Next time we will explore how to move from the old innovation methods to the new ones.

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