Innovation in Action


Day of Innovation Graphic, Join us November 16, 2009
Virtual Brainstorming Sessions
Monday, November 16, 2009
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

We'll pose questions, tackle problems, and toss around ideas and possible solutions for issues affecting our region. Get involved from your own desktop! Or join us on campus at one of the brainstorming kiosks available in the Student Union Atrium. LEARN MORE...

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Frans Johansson
Author of the bestseller The Medici Effect

April 9, 2010
9:15 a.m., Apollo Room, Student Union
Free and open to the public

John Corvino, Ph.D.
Philosophy professor and "gay moralist"

April 20, 2010
7 p.m., Apollo Room, Student Union
Free and open to the public

Ted Rall
Nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist

May 3, 2010
7 p.m., Apollo Room, Student Union
Free and open to the public

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How to be Innovative

Because innovation happens through processes, it can be learned and used by anyone, for any situation. All it requires is whatever skills, talents, and ideas you may have and the willingness to be open to new possibilities and to learn some new processes.

Here are some thoughts and ideas on how to be innovative in your work, classroom, study group, or personal life.

Top 10 Innovation Tips:

  1. Create an environment where people are given the opportunity to brainstorm and champion ideas that may fail, but do not punish them for failing.
  2. Break down individual isolation and create opportunities for people to bounce ideas off of each other. Force people out of their cubicles and offices to meet in small groups. The diversity of ideas will provoke and inspire even more new ideas. Ideas feed on each other if you are open-minded.
  3. Foster cross-pollination. Bring in a diverse group of people to work on a problem. Invite people from all over your company, organization, or class, not just your close associates. People from outside your domain will have different viewpoints. They literally will see the problem from a different angle and may see things that you can't because you're too close to it.
  4. Expose the group to fresh ideas. Hold an "open house" and invite other people outside of your organization to look at your idea/products and engage in conversations with them. Ask them what they think of it. "Change hats"—deliberately take the perspective of others and attempt to view your problem from those perspectives.
  5. When you pull together a group to work on ideas, establish ground rules that allow everyone to speak freely. Put a premium on creative and innovative ideas regardless of where they come from in the organization.
  6. There needs to be someone in charge to ensure the free flow of ideas and to focus the discussion, but they need to be careful that they don't stifle the group by inadvertently promoting their own ideas.
  7. Create a sense of urgency. Set an aggressive time table. Acknowledge to your folks that the timetable is tough and say, "I know you can do it!" Tight time frames increase the heat and help focus the attention of the group.
  8. Limit the scope. Challenge your people to think outside of the box by staying within the box. For example, the PDA was designed to be "small"—a handheld. That limitation was a challenge for people to figure out the best and highest use of the product.
  9. Celebrate incremental successes...not just the attainment of a big goal. Unless the project/goal will be completed in less than a month, you need to acknowledge progress toward it to keep people motivated. Establish incremental milestones and have small celebrations for passing them.
  10. Foster a playful and challenging environment. Creative people tend to be irreverent and have fun. Make it okay for people to joke around and be playful with each other.


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