1. Learn the five secrets of innovation

    March 11, 2010 by

    Have you ever wished that you or your staff could be as innovative as Steve Jobs of Apple or Larry & Sergey of Google? Well, the good news is innovation is not an inherited characteristic – it is a learned skill that all businessmen can develop.

    Mark Tutton, CNN.com reporter. reported that researchers say anyone can learn to innovate like Steve Jobs. Coming up with brilliant, game-changing ideas is what makes the likes of Apple's Steve Jobs so successful, and now researchers say they have identified the five secrets to being a great innovator Professors from Harvard Business School, Insead and Brigham Young University have just completed a six-year study of more than 3,000 executives and 500 innovative entrepreneurs, that included interviews with high-profile entrepreneurs including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Michael Dell, founder of Dell computers.

    In an article published in December's Harvard Business Review the researchers identified five skills that separate the blue-sky innovators from the rest — skills they labeled associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and discovering.

    One of the men behind the study, Insead's Hal Gregersen, told CNN, "What the innovators have in common is that they can put together ideas and information in unique combinations that nobody else has quite put together before."

    The researchers describe this ability to connect ideas as "associating," and say it's key to innovators' ability to think outside the box. But they add that the secret to how the great innovators think is the way they act.

    "The way they act is to observe actively, like an anthropologist, and they talk to incredibly diverse people with different world views, who can challenge their assumptions," Gregersen told CNN.

    "For them, everything is to be experimented upon — for example, if they walk into a bookstore and they're used to reading history they might try psychology. All these behaviors are powerfully enhanced by a capacity to ask provocative, challenging questions of the world around them." Because the ability to think differently comes from acting differently, Gregersen says anyone can become a better innovator, just by acting like one.

    "Studies have shown that creativity is close to 80 percent learned and acquired," he told CNN. "We found that it's like exercising your muscles — if you engage in the actions you build the skills."

    To improve your questioning skills, Gregersen recommends identifying a problem and writing nothing but questions about it for 10 minutes a day for 30 days. He says that over that period the questions will change, and so will your understanding and approach to the problem.

    To build your observation skills, identify a business, customer, supplier, or client, and spend a day or two watching how they work so you can better understand the issues they have to deal with.

    Mark Ventresca is a lecturer in strategic management at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School, and he agrees that innovation is not an inherent trait, but a set of skills that people can learn.

    He told CNN that one key to being a better innovator is building a diverse network of contacts.

    "Data says that people who have more varied connections hear more diverse information, and see patterns before other people," he told CNN.

    "They are able to put together something they hear from a conference they were at last week with a briefing they're at tomorrow and come up with a new idea."

    He says the goal is not simply knowing lots of people, but knowing people from varied backgrounds, who work for different companies, in different industries, have different skills, and deal with different issues, so that you are exposed to varied ideas.

    When it comes to developing your ability to innovate, Ventresca recommends simply setting aside 30 minutes a week to talk with a contact you wouldn't normally talk to — for example someone you met at conference six months ago.

    Ventresca told CNN, "If you do that every week, that's 52 conversations in a year taking up 26 hours of time. 

    "Say 10 of those yield something interesting, and two of those 10 let you do something new and valuable — by investing just 26 hours a year you've come up with something pretty remarkable."

    FIVE KEYS TO INNOVATION

    Researchers say they have identified five skills that drive innovation: 

    Associating: The ability to connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields. 

    Questioning: Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge the common wisdom. They ask "why?", "why not?" and "what if?" 

    Observing: Discovery-driven executives scrutinize common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers. 

    Experimenting: Innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots. 

    Networking: innovators go out of their way to meet people with different ideas and perspectives. 

     

    Best regards
    Robin
    Dr Robin Mann, Commercial Director and Part-Owner, BPIR.com Limited,
    r.s.mann@massey.ac.nz 

     


  2. Common Qualities of Success: BPIR.com advice concerning successful safety programmes

    by

    Terry Mathis, founder of U.S.  ProAct Safety, writes [1] that it has been found that successful safety improvement initiatives are:

    1. Proactive: the successful implementation of reactive safety programmes will inevitably generate the need for the development of proactive safety programmes.

    2. Focused: traditional initiatives commonly lead to the development of many rules and procedures, and these tend to overwhelm and to diffuse employee attention. Truly successful safety efforts focus upon the most important dangers and the appropriate ways to avoid these. When employees begin to automatically take precautions themselves then accidents rates tend to drop permanently.

    3. Transformational: precautions that have the potential to produce a significant positive impact upon accidents are termed transformational precautions. Truly excellent safety efforts do not seek for modest gains, but for goals that will transform accident rates using minimal and practical levels of effort.

    4. Employee Centric: safety improvements are often limited through a lack of worker involvement. Effective safety initiatives must approach risk from both a management and an employee perspective.

    5. Clearly Communicated: effective communication is a trademark of successful safety initiatives, and when deeds and words don't match then the message becomes unclear.

    6. Results Oriented: some safety initiatives have emphasised process metrics over results metrics. A profound knowledge of safety is found using both process metrics and result metrics along with an understanding of the relationship between the two.

    7. Multi-dimensional: successful safety efforts benefit from contributions from quality, technology and behavioural science approaches.

    8. Integrated: successful safety initiatives must become integrated into everything that an organisation does. Safety programmes that do not mesh with day-to-day activities are seldom successful, and they are certainly not sustainable. Integrated safety needs to become an organisational value.

    9. Practical: safety success can be advanced by theories, but ultimately it can not be achieved if it does not fit the cultural, procedural and the real conditions that are found in the workplace.

    10.Humanistic: Successful safety programmes need to win the hearts and minds of the people involved. Ultimately the reasons behind working on safety are just as important as the way it is implemented. Goals dominated by financial targets and benchmarks alone will not win the hearts of the people who are able make initiatives truly successful.

    [1] Mathis, T., (2008), What Does Safety Success Look Like?, Occupational Hazards, Vol 70, Iss 8, pp 43-47, Penton Media, Inc., Cleveland

    Members may read the full article which provides further advice about successful safety management.

     Not a member? read about our membership benefits , or click here to join now!

     

    Neil Crawford
    BPIR


  3. A culture of safety: BPIR.com advice concerning healthcare safely management.

    March 8, 2010 by

    Significant rewards can be returned when attention is given to both patient safety and health care worker safety. Thomas Krause and John Hidley, executives of U.S. Behavioural Science Technology Inc., write [1] that patient safety and employee safety are inseparable since both are the products of an organisation’s culture. Krause & Hidley suggest the following five ways of thinking in regard to patient/employee safety:

    1. Think leadership: when optimising health care safety performance it is essential to begin with leadership i.e. the board of directors, physician leaders, and the health care system leaders, including the CEO and his/her direct reports. When patient and employee safety improves so too does employee satisfaction; organisational citizenship; patient satisfaction; quality of care; malpractice costs decrease, and the overall reputation/financial security of an institution will likewise improve.

    2. Think systems: patient and employee safety should focus upon systems performance to a greater extent than individual performance. In practice adverse events arise mostly from complex processes that are embedded within an organisation. Root-cause analysis of incidents shows clearly that, while individuals are often blamed, the real cause of incidents is almost always a failure of systems. The responsibility for providing adequate systems belongs to the leadership of the organisation.

    3. Think strategy: an overarching strategy must be used to significantly improve patient safety. Too often, safety comes after efficiency, after economy and after profit. In professional group meetings or in board meetings, safety is often very low on the agenda, if it is there at all. Safety must command a central position of strategic value to organisational leadership at all levels.

    4. Think culture: leaders create culture with their every thought, word and deed. Leadership predicts culture, and culture predicts safety outcomes. Krause and Hidley state that “since leadership shapes culture, and culture predictably defines the likelihood of exposure to harm, leaders are obligated to take action consciously and continually to mitigate hazard.” A fundamental ethical error in regard to patient safety is committed when leaders know how to minimize exposure to harm but don't take any action to make this happen.

    5. Think behaviour:
    learn to think about patient safety in terms of behaviour – particularly one’s own behaviour. Effective safety leadership involves finding the specific relationship between ones actions as a leader and the state of patient safety, both organisation wide, and within local functional areas of responsibility. Once this relationship is understood then it becomes possible to change behaviour to everyone's benefit.

    [1] R10854 Krause T. R., Hidley, J. H., (2008), Five Ways to Think About Patient Safety, Trustee, Vol 61, Iss 10, pp 24-27, Health Forum Inc., Chicago

    Members may read the full article which provides further excellent advice concerning Healthcare safety management.

    Not a member? read about our membership benefits , or click here to join now!

    Neil Crawford
    BPIR.com