February 06, 2021

Blog All Dog-eared Pages: Creating a Culture of Innovation by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Creating a Culture of Innovation by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino (and on OpenLibrary)

My good friend Alex's second book was published at the end of last year (my pre-ordered copy arrived on Christmas Eve as a nice coincidental early present). It's a very readable exploration of the plethora of different "innovation" spaces that companies, etc. build, with suggestions and ideas on the good ways of doing it. My dog-eared sections from it are below to give you a flavour...

Page xv

The best innovation work is also down to personal interest, peer groups, timing, and luck, no matter what the state of the carpet.

Page 22

By 1924, Olivetti was offering night courses in mathematics and professional development. In 1932, a summer camp for children was organized, and in 1934, a day nursery was set up on-site to cater to its more than 1000 employees. The cafeteria service was opened in 1936, almost 30 years after the business had started. For many, food is the easiest perk to offer, but in Olivetti's case, it came after many other advantages. Eating together became easy to instigate when every other patriarchal benefit was already being offered.

Page 39

It's impossible to tell if a Rockstar, Ninja, or Sherpa earns more or is more senior than an Alchemist, a Builder or a Change Agent. That confusion will not only confuse new applicants but won't offer clarity to any future employer. Being clear in a job title enables someone to then feel confident about their place in an industry.

Having a title that sounds clear and resonates with the rest of a sector also enables more meaningful conversations between people both inside the company and out. Going to a conference and spending two minutes explaining what kind of role you occupy is a waste of a networking opportunity.

Page 65

Perhaps because of its unattainability, Inbox Zero generated its own wave of email-focused productivity software like Flow-E, Boomerang, ManyMe, and others. None of these applications or concepts have led to anymore clarity around email culture.

Page 74

The greatest benefits of professional jargon is that it nurtures a sense of what mats Alvesson has called 'grandiosity'. Committed users of management jargon are able to transubstantiate boring administrative activities into great deeds. Management jargon can help nurture a sense of self confidence in the chronically insecure world of middle management.

There's something more interesting at play than merely trying to make yourself sound interesting. Every innovation function is, in fact, trying to emulate either a smaller entity than its own or a more artistically inclined department. This desire to emulate an artist collective, an art movement, or any other form of artistic practice can lead to a group of people behaving in a cult-like manner to both build a heightened sense of belonging, increased expectations around performance, and a nifty way to keep others out of the loop.

Page 96

These spaces are neither successful nor unsuccessful, but they are examples of a very particular corporate desire: the one where talking about innovation is as good as innovating.

Posted by Adrian at February 6, 2021 04:23 PM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

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