Innovation: Less Structure, More Informal Collaboration

Carol comments on a recent MIT study that found that 80% of breakthrough innovations didn’t occur in training sessions or formal meetings. The breakthroughs came through informal / chance encounters:

In other words, innovation is less a product of structured processes and more a result of informal conversations.

Obviously, it helps to have the right kind of culture in place for innovation to flourish – but creative conversations don’t happen because of a CEO mandate or a task force charter. Instead, they emerge organically in organizations as a byproduct of routine interpersonal interaction.

Creative synergies are often facilitated by employees with multiple networks throughout the organization. Friendships bring trust, inviting an even deeper level of communication. Social networks, personal relationships, employees with diverse connections across divisional boundaries – this is the real foundation for breakthrough innovation.

Want to dramatically increase your organization’s “creativity quotient?” It may be simpler than we thought. It may be as simple as hiring great people, making sure they meet one another, and letting them talk.

Where do you get your most breakthrough ideas? Mine are usually when I’m away from the office, and increasingly when I’m cycling around the block (it’s a 24 km block) during lunchtime. It’s there when I’m away from the press of moment by moment performance demands that I can think … and create … and innovate. You wouldn’t believe how many work problems I solve while on my bike …

What about you?

Read more: Forbes Leadership Blog

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