Online education portals like Udacity and Coursera are really changing the world of remote learning in significant ways. By making free and high quality education accessible to a global audience, these platforms are opening up undreamt of possibilities for communities around the world to improve, grow, and prosper in the digital economy of the 21st century. Education at top tier colleges and universities has traditionally been a social and economic privilege, but now anyone can join in the learning revolution by sitting in virtual classrooms with the world’s best and brightest educators. Whether this involves learning how to code and build smart phone apps, or starting up a new business, or learning about public health literacy, the sky is the limit of what’s now possible.

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Making Innovation central to your small business – part 5

Small businesses have an advantage over large enterprises when it comes to innovation precisely because they’re not strapped down by big, legacy systems and excessive processes, policies, and protocols.  Innovation thrives on flexible, agile, and open environments that provide people with the room to explore new ideas and concepts. Keeping your team small and agile, while also allocating decision-making to as few as possible are two points that will go a long ways towards promoting and improving the innovation culture within your organization. Let’s unpack these points further below.


Create a small, agile team


As should be clear by now, innovation requires a flexible, agile, and supportive environment where it’s safe to brainstorm, express, and experiment with new ideas and ways of thinking. This process does not happen naturally across the board and so it must be cultivated at the ground level. You want to create a small team that is able to work together dynamically and efficiently. When thinking about team size, consider Jeff Bezos’ mantra of the “two-pizza team.” That’s a team that can be fed with two (American) pizzas. In terms of numbers, this works out to somewhere between 6 and 10 people.


The advantages of a small team is that they know each on a first name basis, which makes it easier to seek out specific guidance or get questions answered. Small teams self-organize more efficiently and can catch mistakes faster and work to not repeat them. It’s easier to hold your colleagues accountable and to keep a deeper level of trust when the team is small.


Leave decision-making in the hands of no more than two people


You may have heard the expression that “too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth.” Well, it also should be applied to setting up your innovation team and process. One Google exec, known for innovation best practices, advises as follows: “If you have more than two people making decisions about strategy and execution, it’s too many. Disruptive innovation is not about consensus. The CEO or the team leader should have strong and ultimate authority.”


Innovation thrives on keeping honest, transparent, and safe communications going at all times. You don’t want to end up with time-wasting power plays and politics. Keeping your team small and the decision-making in the hands of one or two trusted people will alleviate the pitfalls that so easily beset larger teams and organizations that try to innovate.











Wrapping It Up!


Throughout the preceding series we’ve outlined and discussed a core set of principles that are commonly found among all truly successful innovators. Putting these into practice will help make innovation a central part of your  company strategy and vision going forward.


Let’s review what we’ve learned.


  • Don’t expect to reinvent the wheel: Innovation doesn’t imply creating something new and novel. Look first at how to take an existing process and make it better!


  • Challenge convention: Innovation and convention don’t mix; promote a culture that makes it safe to ask new questions and question old traditions.


  • Keep the end result in mind: Don’t assume a fixed result endpoint, but be prepared to pivot and shift your innovation strategy as market dynamics determine.


  • Don’t languish in the planning stage: A great start can flame out if the team allows planning and logistics to overwhelm the effort. Stay the course, preserve the vision, and finish strong!


  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable: The process of innovation will require attributes and attitudes that stretch your comfort zone, but the rewards and outcomes will be well worth it.


  • Think outside the box: Box? What Box? Too many company structures will impede innovation faster than anything.


  • Create a small, agile team: A team size of 6 to 10 people makes life easier for everyone as it improves communications, builds trust, and improves overall efficiency.


  • Leave decision-making in the hands of no more than two people: Consolidating the authority will keep the innovation process streamlined and less inclined towards company politics.


Innovation doesn’t “just happen” nor is it solely the product of genius, talent, or luck (though those qualities help!). Innovation requires a proper set of conditions to manifest itself and fortunately these can be taught, learned, and reproduced at the organizational level. Small businesses already have an advantage by not being strapped down by large amounts of bureaucracy.


Creating an innovation culture begins with each individual contributor putting their best foot forward. Everyone can start by doing their part to promote a work environment where it’s safe to brainstorm, express new ideas, challenge the status quo, and develop alternate ways of thinking.


The competition is fierce and the time has never been better to act. So take that first step today!



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Ralph Eck

About Ralph Eck

Ralph is an international businessman with a wealth of experience in developing; telecommunications, data transmission, CATV and internet companies. His experience and expertise positions him uniquely in being able to; analyze, evaluate and critique technology and how it fits into a business’ operational needs while supporting its’ success.
  • Ann

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