What makes money such a powerful idea

How ideas become innovation and money. The 7 sacred steps.

Small joke. But it is still conceivable that the text will help ... If innovation simply no longer works in your company, then there are probably at least one of three central hurdles in the way:

Hurdle 1: You have no innovation masters. So there is no one who has useful ideas and can infect others. That is unlikely, because there is a surplus of ideas in almost every company. So the question is: why do the experts become invisible or ineffective?
Hurdle 2: You have no innovation decision-makers. So formally yes. But in fact nobody decides that resources should be focused and perhaps wasted. Because: Real innovation is a risky business. Everyone feels that a lot has to be tried out. Without knowing what will work how and when. So it's about risky decisions.
Hurdle 3: As a company, you suffer from the uncertainty-control illusion. So you're trying to get around the inevitable uncertainty. This means that innovation is planned, secured and managed at a very early stage. One could say: it is being managed in a broken way. Nobody wants to take the risk of promising something unpredictable. In other words: “No risk - no fun” also applies to innovation. That describes the situation of organizations that are dependent on innovation very well.
So what can you think or even do?

Context change

Change the context, the milieu. Letting go of the control illusion. These are the management practices and things that are taken for granted every day. And effective. We don't mean the culture ... So the “sum of the indecisive things that are taken for granted”. We mean the "resolute practices". So what you can decide and change immediately. A very striking example:
This is how we think about the innovation climate
Why? Because you can do it…
Everyone who has an idea and wants to create something innovative to make us as a company more effective on the market will receive EUR 50,000. Without conditions. Without a plan. Without control. At the latest, when the 50,000 EUR is all, then you get a committee together to reflect on the status. The committee can veto. And the owner can veto it. Otherwise it continues with 100,000 EUR. At that point the innovators can get involved privately. From then on you will talk to the owner every 3 months about your own product area and about the next steps. Do you have a time problem? Everyone has ... solve it.
Buying illusion first. Every innovation team has a duty to start with the customer perspective. First try to understand whether the customer will buy your innovation - with a buying illusion. With as little effort and risk as possible. Maybe it needs a brochure. Or a website. Or a 3D simulation. Or a napkin and sales talent. In any case: develop little. Sell ​​a lot. Learn a lot and quickly through communication with partners, customers, suppliers and experts.
Learn by doing. Try things out and observe. Make hypotheses. Search for unconscious hypotheses. Be self-critical - and don't pretend that you devastate everything. Otherwise you won't learn anything ... Your idea may be great. But very often you will be wrong about details. Write down your assumptions and test them - as quickly and cheaply as possible. Don't waste time blindly believing in untested, critical hypotheses. Otherwise you could end up failing disastrously. It is better if you fail often, small and inexpensive and at the beginning.
Fail gracefully. We need people who dare to venture into new areas without knowing the dangers lurking there. You can fall on your face in a terrible way. That sucks without end. It's screaming. No success despite commitment. That takes strong nerves. When it happens, it helps a lot when someone comes and pats you on the shoulder. Or help you get up. Or hand out a beer and listen for two hours. Failure with dignity is the basis for innovative behavior. Anyone who wants to make a career with us should show that they can do something. Clear. But also that the desire to learn to act despite uncertainty outweighs - and conquers the understandable fear of failure.
Knowledge helps. It helps to z. B. to deal with design thinking and lean startup. Training or reading. Because there are people who have discovered that certain communication patterns and behaviors can be observed again and again in fast-learning teams. Nobody will force or urge you. Nevertheless: every 4 months we hold an impulse and taster day on the topics of innovation work. Have a look. If you find that it is a waste of time, just leave. If you are interested: Report to Mr. Clever.

Just imagine what it would do if you decided on something like that in the management team and practiced it over and over again for 3 years. At the staff meeting it would be printed out and signed by the owners on the walls. There are visible examples. And the owners would explain why they do this ...

Presumably, such sentences would then have to be used in discussions with the manager or the owner:
“Of course we have to look for innovation - so we won't find it right away. So don't worry: failure is okay. We in the GF have already tried out a lot. And not everything worked by a long way. So you are in good company. We need both: people who work like clockwork with absolute routine and those who break new ground, fall, get up again and finally discover completely new areas. It is clear to us that budgets, plans and specifications tend to be a hindrance there ... Nevertheless, we also need to understand what is going on - because we too are asked and want to be informed. So keep us up to date - but in a way that suits you. "

Donate shelter

The change in context will gradually attract the right people. Those who want and can innovate. People with ideas and zest for action. These innovation drivers attract other people. And this is how teams of willing and able, committed people emerge. That affects the ideas. Working together, new, better ideas emerge. Without having to use the power of managers or externally determined plans and processes. But: Power is needed to create a stable shelter. So the guaranteed limits of freedom of action and dignified failure.

Show strategic direction

Power is needed to pool resources. To create shelter. And to make fundamental decisions about direction. It is obvious that innovation thrives best when it fits into the “strategic framework” and does not contradict the values ​​of the owners. This strategic framework must not be too narrow for this - in the sense of a long-term action plan. The task of those in power is to provide an entrepreneurial sense of direction, to bundle resources and to prevent dissipation.

Show tools

Innovation teams - i.e. real teams, donated by an expert with ideas - can then decide for themselves which tools to try out and use. It is worthwhile to “demonstrate” these - but the decision lies with the team. Lean startup, design thinking, systems engineering. Or an Excel list. The team may try and reject.

Create transparency

Every three months, the management should ask the innovation team for 1 hour's attention and show the current developments on the subject of strategy, annual goals, current needs. Simply so that the team has a chance to process and react to such influences. Otherwise, sooner or later there will be “the interference of power and the collapse of team responsibility”.

Abolish anti-innovation practices

The elimination of communication and management practices that are hostile to innovation is essential: “In everything we do, we should adhere to the principle of 'first time right'. When it comes to innovation, efficiency and adherence to plans are top priorities in our company. Process discipline and transparency are crucial. We avoid mistakes through thinking. That is what we mean by professionalism. ”When such sentences are used, one should be very, very thoughtful. Presumably there are then “suitable” management practices that downright prevent innovation.


This is a placeholder. There is always something important. Company specific. For example: We are prepared that half of our innovation attempts fail. There is no shame in that. 9 out of 10 startups fail. We are clearly better!

This is not a prescription and is not a guarantee. Nevertheless: Much of it has been shown again and again in connection with real innovation, one way or another. Causality? Coincidence? Both not. Rather the other way around: Innovation breaks with the control mania. The destructive direction works. It is particularly important to refrain from doing the harmful. That helps a lot. And then a suitable, culture-compatible way is found to open up degrees of freedom, generate energy, give strategic direction, bundle resources in order to deal innovatively with uncertainty.