Sophisticated innovators, however, have long recognized that constraints spur and guide innovation. Attempting to innovate without boundaries overwhelms people with options and ignores established practices, such as agile programming, that have been shown to enhance innovation. Without guidelines to structure the interactions, members of a complex organization or ecosystem struggle to coordinate their innovative activities.
How, then, can organizations embrace a more disciplined approach to innovation? One productive approach is to apply a few simple rules to key steps in the innovation process. Simple rules add just enough structure to help organizations avoid the stifling bureaucracy of too many rules and the chaos of none at all. By imposing constraints on themselves, individuals, teams, and organizations can spark creativity and channel it along the desired trajectory. Instead of trying to think outside the wrong box, you can use simple rules to draw the right box and innovate within it.
Simple rules cannot, of course, guarantee successful innovation—no tool can. Innovation creates novel products, processes, or business models that generate economic value. Trying anything new inevitably entails experimentation and failure. Simple rules, however, add discipline to the process to boost efficiency and increase the odds that the resulting innovations will create value.
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