Key to success in modern business is innovation, but other than hiring creative people, what determines whether an innovative company will be successful? Professor David Owens of the Vanderbilt University business school thinks he has the answer. You must simultaneously satisfy six constraints to succeed.
Owens’ six constraints span everything from basic technological advancements to the internal dynamics of the corporate culture. “The constraints are the parameters within which one must work--and for creative people, that’s actually a blessing,” said Owens.
By fostering the conditions that encourage constraint satisfaction in an enterprise, Owens’ approach offers a formula worth remembering:
Constraint 1: Technological Feasibility--innovations must be technologically feasible, advancing our understanding and control of matter and energy while avoiding excessive research and development efforts.
Constraint 2: Societal Feasibility--innovations must be in-tune with trends in public awareness, offering fashionable additions, like social networking, while avoiding practices that are morally or ethically repugnant, like cloning.
Constraint 3: Industry Feasibility--innovation is more than just creativity; users must perceive the utility and value of creative additions to your company's products and services, as opposed to your competitors, in order for them to be counted as innovative.
Constraint 4: Organizational Feasibility--innovations require a corporate culture that encourages the free movement of new ideas plus the human, monetary and other resources necessary to nurture them.
Constraint 5: Group Feasibility--innovations require a social climate of hope and optimism in order to encourage the expression of creativity.
Constraint 6: Individual Feasibility--innovations require people to "think differently," which can be achieved with proper training in the tools and processes that foster creativity.
Although most advice on fostering innovation focuses on new products, Owens claims in his book “Creative People Must Be Stopped: 6 Ways We Kill Innovation (Without Even Trying),” that his six constraints must be satisfied by any organization seeking success.
"We often think of innovation as product innovation, but we don’t often think of it as creating new processes or new services or even as changing our ways of thinking about things," said Owens. "What we need is the kind of vision correction that will enable us to see in advance the vital factors that determine our chances for success."
Owens’ book advises that by analyzing all potential new innovations with his six constraints, enterprises can advance to proactive strategic development, instead of retrospective analysis of successes and failures, resulting in innovative new products and services with improved chances of success.