Innovating from the Bottom-Up

Innovation is definitely a complex endeavor that requires the orchestration of multiple dimensions. Without doubt, unless an organization's leadership has thought out the structures, processes, metrics, rewards systems, and knowledge and skills required to advance their innovation agenda, they will not be successful.

However, this is not to say that there's nothing to be done at the front-line of organizations to advance innovation. Interestingly, many instances of innovation occur not because of management, but despite of management!

In this Blog, I'll be sharing some ideas on how innovation can be driven from the bottom-up. It's a long awaited complement to all the important research and literature on how to drive innovation from the top-down.

Let's see what develops.

Ulises Pabon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If you want to think big, start small.

That's the title of chapter 38 from Alan M. Webber's (Co-founder of Fast Company Magazine) RULES OF THUMB; 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Yourself. In it, Alan succinctly presents the now legendary story of Muhammad Yanus. What began as a $27 loan to liberate 42 people in the village of Jobra, India from loan sharks mushroomed into the Grameen Bank and a Noble Prize (see related blog entry below on April 5, 2009).

In Alan's words: "... Yanus didn't set out from home one morning with the goal of ending poverty in Bangladesh or raising tens of millions of people around the world out of poverty. He wasn't thinking about starting a bank or a social movement. He certainly wasn't game-planning to win the Noble Peace Prize. He saw a woman in a village who needed help and, decided he could not not help her."

Rule 38: "If you want to think big, start small" resonates in the heart and mind of Bottom-Up innovators. The point is: whatever you feel passionate about and compelled to drive, do it! Welcome experimentation. Don't over-engineer a solution or wait for perfection. Alan's advice is "Start small. If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn't work, change what you're doing until you find something that does work."

Bottom-Up Innovation is all about starting small. We need to remind ourselves, in the heat of the battle, to never underestimate the repercussions of small actions.

While RULES OF THUMB is not a manifesto for Bottom-Up Innovators, it's packed with good advice and definitely a recommended read.

If you want to think big, start small.