The 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation – Follow them or risk the consequences

philmckinney | August 22, 2011

Article

 

Laws of Innovation

Over the years of being in the innovation space, I’ve discovered a set of laws by trial and error.  Needless to say, I have the scars from the school of hard knocks to validate that these are the set of laws that are critical for innovation success. If you violate any one of them, the consequences can be disastrous.  These laws apply to all sizes of organizations ranging from well-established multi-nationals, to early stage start-ups to governments.

So how do I use these rules?  No single organization has it all figured out.  By taking an honest audit of your innovation programs against the laws, you can identify the areas that work and those that don’t.

1)      The Law of Leadership: Executive level support (Board, CEO and his/her direct reports) is critical for an organization that wants to have innovation at is core.  Leadership means talking-the-talk AND walking-the-walk. It means committing (and protecting) resources (time, money, people, equipment) for innovation.  How much time does the executive team as a group and individually spend working on innovation? Listening to status reports from others doesn’t count.

2)      The Law of Culture: Establishing and nurturing an innovation culture sets the foundation for the organization. For leaders it means rewarding the right behavior (teamwork, collaboration, honesty, trust) and identifying and eliminating bad behavior (not-invented-here, passive/aggressive, turf battles).  The key items in a robust culture of innovation are:

  • People: Every person feels ownership of the innovation agenda and is equipped and skilled to have impact.
  • Ideas: Ideas are actively solicited from all sources and valued and nurtured not criticized or minimized.
  • Alignment: All resources are aligned against the innovation agenda to ensure everyone is pulling the same direction.
  • Communication: Communication that is clear, honest, respectful and transparent is essential for teamwork and establishing trust within the organization.

3)      The Law of Resources: Innovation requires a committed level of resources (people, money, time, equipment) over an extended period of time.  The level of resourcing is the validation for the importance and commitment the organization devotes to innovation.  Does the executive team commit the best resources to innovation?  Are the resources protected?

4)      The Law of Patience: Innovation takes time.  More time than is expected.  The organization must take the long view on innovation and avoid the temptation and resist the pressure for short-term adjustments.  Annual resets of budgets force innovation to take on a short-term planning horizon. If resources are adjusted to help the organization meet quarterly budget challenges, then most likely, Law of Leadership is NOT in place. Don’t fall into the trap of the “Rule of 18”. Are resources committed beyond the traditional budget planning cycle?

5)      The Law of Process:  To succeed at innovation, organizations need an innovation process that fits and works within their organization and culture.  The process should cover the full innovation chain from idea capture through the last steps of execution. This includes establishing and tracking a set of metrics that measures the success and areas of improvement within the innovation program.

6)      The Law Of BHAG:  What is a BHAG?  A BHAG is “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”.  It’s what leadership lays out as the innovation agenda.  The BHAG sets a clear and compelling target, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization will know when it has achieved the goal. It does NOT prescribe the how.  John F. Kennedy didn’t design the rockets that got the U.S. to the moon.  He set the BHAG.

7)      The Law Of Execution: The ability to execute on both the innovation agenda and the quarterly objectives of the operating business is a key skill that the organization needs to have.  Focusing on only one area of execution leaves the other to flounder.  Segmenting the execution roles into separate silos works against the Law of Culture.

Comments

Comments(39)

Posted by What point is Phil Mckinney trying to make? - PreCentral Forums on Aug 22nd, 2011

[…] […]

Posted by HP TouchPad Guru Phil McKinney Lays Down "7 Immutable Laws Of Innovation"; Do They Apply to HP? | Donald Schwartz on Aug 22nd, 2011

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Posted by Broadfield Media – HP TouchPad Guru Phil McKinney Lays Down "7 Immutable Laws Of Innovation"; Do They Apply to HP? on Aug 22nd, 2011

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Posted by HP TouchPad Guru Phil McKinney Lays Down "7 Immutable Laws Of Innovation"; Do They Apply to HP? | Fast Company on Aug 22nd, 2011

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Posted by HP TouchPad Guru Phil McKinney Lays Down "7 Immutable Laws Of Innovation"; Do They Apply to HP? | Global Advisors on Aug 22nd, 2011

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Posted by HP TouchPad Guru Phil McKinney Lays Down "7 Immutable Laws Of Innovation"; Do They Apply to HP? on Aug 22nd, 2011

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Posted by Is Innovation at HP Dead? - John Paczkowski - News - AllThingsD on Aug 22nd, 2011

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Posted by Diana Huerga on Aug 23rd, 2011

Thank you for MODELING the roadmap to success in innovation. I completely agree with the necessary equilibrium among all these rules.

I recommend you a website:

http://www.intellectualexplorer.com (included up)

where I think you can find interesting ideas too, for exmple, pdf about Steve Jobs is quite interesting. Their ideas (the best is click in “pdf” button), are interdisciplinary and we can discover the facts from unexpected points of view.

Posted by Colin MacKenzie on Aug 23rd, 2011

Excellently said! I am making a poster of this puppy! :)

Posted by The 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation « What's New in Technology? on Aug 23rd, 2011

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Posted by Anonymous on Aug 23rd, 2011

[…] […]

Posted by Matt on Aug 23rd, 2011

Although these sound great, in reality, they are laws put down from what appears to be a CEO who is out of touch with the actual working of his company and market(ing) fundamentals. Take a step back; have previously successful CEOs used these laws? Have then broken them? I think you find that the answers to both these questions are not what Mr. McKinney is implying (with all due respect).

Posted by David Seward on Aug 23rd, 2011

Probably equally applicable to the broader subject of executing strategy

Posted by Laws of Innovation | BAYARD DESIGN on Aug 23rd, 2011

[…] the heels of the very rapid failure of the HP TouchPad, Phil McKinney, CTO at HP, has offered 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation: 1)      The Law of Leadership: Executive level support (Board, CEO and his/her direct […]

Posted by Jack Heald on Aug 23rd, 2011

Seriously?

I mean, not to be a wet blanket or anything, but “leadership, resources, patience, execution”? Is this not obvious on the face of it?

The fact that these even need to be elucidated is proof that there are complete idiots occupying the glass offices all around the world.

Posted by David Phiipps on Aug 24th, 2011

Good points, all. I recommend you include an additional “law”: local champion. Wiithout the one champion (or team of champions) appropriately connected to staleholders and insanely convinced that the innovation in question MUST happen, no amount of resources or leadership will create innovation. Not all those who want to innovate are committed (ie crazy) enough to make it happen.

Posted by Steve on Aug 24th, 2011

Exactly……

CRAP is the real killer of innovation

C ….. always need Consensus, afraid to make decisions
R ….. risk adversion
A ….. analysis paralysis
P ….. process driven, not results driven

Get rid of the CRAP and you open the door for innovation.

Posted by GDal on Aug 24th, 2011

Well put.

Posted by VMatter on Aug 24th, 2011

Perhaps the changes announced by HP is the best thing for Phil and innovative technologies his team has developed. I think Phil’s best days are ahead of him.

As Steve Jobs announces his retirement, we need new visionaries.

Posted by Linkflood 2011-08-23: il mediacloud vince sulle major e la fine del traditional management | Rainbowbreeze on Aug 25th, 2011

[…] The 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation – Follow them or risk the consequences – Sette leggi d’oro che vanno seguite per non perdere il treno dell’innovazioni. Non originalissime in se’, ma utili raccolte assieme. […]

Posted by tim on Aug 29th, 2011

After the way HP mis-handled palm, the consequences were 25% less shareholder value.

I guess you and Leo violated your laws!

Posted by Rules Are(n’t) Made to Be Broken - Cool Calm Constructed on Sep 16th, 2011

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Posted by 5junebugs on Nov 28th, 2011

This is the biggest load of crap. Reads like a bad self help book. this is a guy who in 2010 thought home automation was a new idea. He was not a visionary for HP but a boat anchor. He is asking for patience in a technology market that see new products every 45 days. That must be reason why they never released a truly innovative WebOS product in 2 years.

Also JFK did not create a BHAG that developed the new innovation, the Russians did that. JFK got the USA industrial engine behind the idea to beat them at their own game.

Innovation does not come out of a board room in some big publicly announce grand plan, it comes from the front line teams find better ways to do things. Leaders who develop innovation, find those diamonds in the rough and put the company behind them.

Phil’s problem is he does not even understand that he is not innovative and has no idea where to find a good idea. Hey Phil, if you want home automation and think it is the next big thing, do a few google searches and you can buy everything you need already.

If you want to innovate, give some individuals who are struggling with issues daily the tools they need. They will find inovative ways to use them. The iPhone is not one tool that does everything, it was just a tool that could do everything. Jobs knew this and focused on a tools platform that could do it all and let the individual do the innovation. As long as you try to develop tools that solve everyones problems nobody will be interested, because everyone’s problems are different.

Posted by Phillman5 on Jan 29th, 2012

Shouldn’t law 2 be:
Alignment: All resources are aligned WITH the innovation agenda to ensure everyone is pulling the same direction.

Posted by 3 CEOs Who Get Innovation - Forbes on Mar 26th, 2012

[…] I stack up each of these organizations against the 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation, they clearly check the box when it comes to the Law of Leadership.   In my research, I found […]

Posted by 3 CEOs Who Get Innovation | Infoglobalbusiness on Mar 26th, 2012

[…] I stack up each of these organizations against the 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation, they clearly check the box when it comes to the Law of Leadership.   In my research, I found […]

Posted by HP TouchPad Guru Phil McKinney Lays Down "7 Immutable Laws … | HP TouchPad on May 1st, 2012

[…] McKinney took to his personal blog to lay down the “7 immutable laws of innovation–follow them or risk the […]

Posted by Creativity In Organizations: Phil Mckinney’s 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation | Austin Hill Shaw - Creativity Expert, Coach and Consultant on Jun 25th, 2012

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Posted by Inventing a Digital Pentagon « Digital Pentagon on Oct 22nd, 2012

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Posted by Inventing a Digital Pentagon « Digital Pentagon | The Inventing Blog on Oct 23rd, 2012

[…] Headquarters staffs in the Digital Pentagon focus less on ensuring policy compliance and more on providing thought leadership as centers of excellence for their functional area. In their oversight role, senior officials reviewed dozens of programs, gaining valuable insight into what works. Now they actively share that knowledge with the acquisition community by posting best practices and lessons learned to websites and enterprise knowledge repositories. Success is replicated by analyzing the most successful programs and identifying the leading factors for others to model. Communicating elements of successful program strategies and practices enables the workforce to understand and apply these elements to their programs early in the processes. This approach changes the image of DoD oversight organizations from being another hurdle for program approval to one of invaluable think tanks that help develop leading edge strategies. “To nurture an innovation culture, leaders must reward the right behavior (teamwork, collaboration, honesty, trust) and eliminate bad behavior (not-invented-here, passive/aggressive, turf battles).”—Phil McKinney […]

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[…] Headquarters staffs in the Digital Pentagon focus less on ensuring policy compliance and more on providing thought leadership as centers of excellence for their functional area. In their oversight role, senior officials reviewed dozens of programs, gaining valuable insight into what works. Now they actively share that knowledge with the acquisition community by posting best practices and lessons learned to websites and enterprise knowledge repositories. Success is replicated by analyzing the most successful programs and identifying the leading factors for others to model. Communicating elements of successful program strategies and practices enables the workforce to understand and apply these elements to their programs early in the processes. This approach changes the image of DoD oversight organizations from being another hurdle for program approval to one of invaluable think tanks that help develop leading edge strategies. “To nurture an innovation culture, leaders must reward the right behavior (teamwork, collaboration, honesty, trust) and eliminate bad behavior (not-invented-here, passive/aggressive, turf battles).”—Phil McKinney […]

Posted by The Patience to Change — Pro Say Blog on Jan 3rd, 2013

[…] technology analyst Phil McKinney has listed “The Law of Patience” as one of his Seven Immutable Laws of Innovation. McKinney states that although we all want to “see results now, not years down the line,” […]

Posted by Phil McKinney » What are the Laws of Innovation and how does your organization stack-up? on Jun 17th, 2013

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[…] person was quoting from a blog post called the 7 Laws of Innovation.  Law #4 is the Law of Patience.  In this case, the project lead was on the mark by pushing back […]

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