The topic of last week’s #Innochat (a Twitter-based, innovation oriented chat each Thursday at 11 a.m. central time) was stealth innovation strategy, i.e. trying to develop innovative business ideas in relative quiet to get around an organization’s naysayers. The topic is of great interest for those facing environments where an innovation-based strategy, in any of its various forms, isn’t supported. Spending a lot of effort trying to catalyze innovation in those environments serves as the premise for everything under the “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” banner (plus the occasional Brainzooming blog post, as I was surprised to find in the framing for the “stealth innovation” Innochat.)
The Innochat participants covered a variety of angles on stealth innovation strategy, often returning to strategic challenges within an organization as a fundamental factor in making it make sense to engage in underground innovation. You could say it comes down to a strategic risk trade-off: if you think the risk of a new idea being shot down is greater than the risk of a hand slap for not going through all the proper channels, stealth innovation can be a compelling business innovation strategy.
In an interesting variation on theme, Fared Adib, VP of Product Development and Operations at Sprint described what is essentially a “sanctioned” stealth innovation strategy at the previous day’s Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Innovation Conference. He recounted an instance where Sprint had set up two independent innovation teams working on the same technology development opportunity. The strategy and efforts of each innovation team were kept from the other so that the organization could reap the timing and diversity benefits of two separate streams of innovation activity.
The hour-long #Innochat tweetversation wrapped by agreeing that stealth innovation is fine as an occasional strategy, but if it’s an every time strategy, there are bigger strategic issues to be addressed.
What do you think about stealth innovation? Have you used a stealth innovation strategy? If you have, what were the reasons, what was your implementation strategy, and did you consider it successful? - Mike Brown
The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you devise a successful innovation strategy for your organization.