THE QUOTE: “Survival requires continual innovation, and at the core is learning faster than everyone else.

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Survival requires continual innovation, and at the core is learning faster than everyone else.” – Clark Quinn (Learning Technology Strategist)


Innovation is driving today’s businesses and workplaces around the world. And, ‘learning at the speed of need’ is the most significant factor that helps power up innovation. We, at Learnnovators, believe this too, and have been continuously striving to achieve results by making innovation an integral part of our learning and development process. We have been trying to leverage the possibilities of this quality while designing and developing cost effective and powerful learning and performance support solutions for our clients.

Today, when we thought of getting ourselves updated on the latest trends related to this topic, and also to get inspired by brilliant initiatives from some of the great companies around the world, we set out on a quick journey.

Below are the questions we had in mind when we embarked on our journey:

  • How significant is innovation for businesses to succeed? How does it help make workplace behaviours (including workplace learning) effective?
  • How are companies (big and small) around the world faring in workplace innovation today? In what innovative ways are they leveraging this? What are the results? What are the challenges?
  • What are the key trends? What is the future?
  • What are some of the useful resources available on this subject?


Below are some of the interesting resources on this subject that we would like to share with you.


  • My claim is that optimal performance will be only the cost of entry, and the only sustainable differentiator will be continual innovation. With things changing faster, competitors able to be more nimble, and customers getting more ‘clued in’, companies will have to be more flexible and able to adapt faster, which requires agility. And innovation comes from ‘creative friction’, interactions between folks. So optimizing the organization to facilitate innovation is critical, and requires a culture where it’s safe to share, diversity is valued, new ideas are welcome, and there is time for reflection.” – Clark Quinn (in our interview with him)
  • Continual experimentation is core to innovation. You can’t apply learning principles to technology if you don’t understand the technology. Similarly, you can’t truly leverage technology if you don’t understand how people really learn!” – Clark Quinn (in our interview with him)
  • You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and still be in business tomorrow.” – Unknown


  • Breakthrough Innovation and Growth: What are innovation leaders doing differently? What practices do they follow? What are the lessons learned? This survey by PwC – the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind exploring innovation from a global, multi-sector perspective – carries some very interesting insights.
  • Corporate Innovation Is Within Reach: This is a brilliant report from Accenture Management Consulting based on a 2013 study (involving 600 corporate employees, 200 corporate business decision makers and 200 self-employed individuals) of US companies and their entrepreneurial cultures. It contains great insights into how the US workforce and small business owners view the importance of entrepreneurialism in large corporations and how companies support the generation of innovative ideas.

Use Cases & Stories

  • Google: Google allows their staff to spend 30% of their time pursuing their own creative interests; this has lead to innovative ideas such as Google Maps and Google AdSense, which have genuinely changed the way we live and made Google more than a search engine.
  • Inside Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation Center: This story of Johnson & Johnson’s Boston Innovation Center in Cambridge that hosts brainstorming lunches on the first Thursday of every month at its “Imagine If Cafe” is quite inspiring. Robert Urban who heads the center explains how the system works.
  • KickStart: Here is a brilliant initiative by Mark Randall of Adobe to encourage innovation at the workplace in a whole new way. It is one of the most disruptive ways to encourage innovation in workplaces indeed! The KickStart ideas discussed are both interesting as well as inspiring reads.
  • The Coca-Cola Company: This is a good collection of articles, stories and opinions about innovation and the role it plays at the Coca-Cola Company.
  • Jugaad Innovation: This article is about jugaad (a Hindi word that describes an improvised or makeshift solution using scarce resources) – a ‘frugal’ form of innovation developed in India that is beginning to make its mark in companies like Philips and GE.


  • Innovation and Collaboration in Plain English: This is a brilliant whiteboard animation (by Information Design Studio) that neatly illustrates the steps that you should follow in implementing innovation within your organization.
  • Do Schools Kill Creativity?: This is Sir Ken Robinson’s first talk and remains the most viewed of all TEDTalks so far. This talk focuses on two main themes – how systems of mass education tend to suppress the deep natural capacities for creativity that we possess, and the significance of cultivating these capacities by rethinking the dominant approaches to education.
  • 9 Principles of Innovation at Google: This is an interesting presentation by Gopi Kallayil, Google’s Chief Social Evangelist, in which he explores the nine principles of innovation at Google, and how that applies to marketing.
  • Unique Insights into Creativity and Innovation: In this Xerox virtual event, Sir Ken Robinson identifies the three myths about innovation that hold many organizations back, and the basic practices that drive the most innovative ahead of the pack.
  • Breaking the Barriers to Innovation: In this Interview, Lisa Bodell explains how she and her company FutureThink teach actionable ways to create a culture of innovative thinking.
  • Building a Culture of Innovation: In this highly insightful talk at the 9th Annual AERO Conference, Sir Ken Robinson discusses innovative ways to reinvent our educational system.
  • The Art of Innovation: In this wonderful talk at TEDxBerkeley, Guy Kawasaki shares his top ten tips to master the art of innovation with many inspiring examples.


  • Creativity is Key to a Company’s Success: How are some of the world’s largest companies coping with innovation crisis and what has led them to this situation? In this interview (with Real Business), Sir Ken Robinson shares his thoughts about the importance of encouraging original ideas and rejecting a pack mentality among employees.
  • The Top 11 Innovative Workplace Stories Of 2013: This report (from FastCompany) carries the top 11 innovative workplace stories of 2013. The focus here is on how employers are taking the effort to create comfortable work environments for their employees.
  • How Hot Companies Fuel Growth From Within: This article (by Earnest & Young) discusses how companies encourage innovation by tapping into the creativity of their existing employees. The focus is on the strategy of cultivating innovation through intrapreneurship within companies. The six tactics listed in the article as the key for effective intrapreneurship are worth reviewing.
  • Why Most Companies Renovate Instead Of Innovate: Most companies prefer low-risk, incremental improvements in place of risky innovations. This article that analyses an Accenture study that reveals this fact is worth checking for a practical perspective on the ground realities.
  • Coaching Innovation: This post (by Cris Beswick) discusses the significance of devising a ‘coaching’ strategy for managers in order to bring in an innovation culture in their organizations.


  • Six Steps to Innovation: This infographic (from Oracle) is a brilliant illustration of the six successful strategies that influence innovation within the workforce. The illustration is based on the findings of a global survey that Oracle conducted with the Economic Intelligence Unit to explore the characteristics of companies that promote innovation.



As we came to the end of our search, we had the following learnings as ‘take-aways’ from our little journey:

  • Innovation is all around us! It is crucial not just for sustaining success but even for mere survival. Companies big and small are relentlessly pursuing innovation. These companies who have madecontinual innovation a part of their organizational DNA are able to reinvent their traditional processes to remain competitive. The ones that are yet to recognise and embrace innovation in their organisational practices are falling apart. In short, continual innovation is recognized as the most significant sustaining factor for today’s organizations.
  • From a learning perspective, we remain inspired by the brilliant insights on this subject from thought leaders such as Clark Quinn who have been helping connect ‘learning’ and ‘experimentation’ with innovation. This puts L&D in the driver’s seat to help organizations build a culture of innovation.

What other methods are being followed to encourage innovation in companies? What are other interesting stories that you have come across?

How do you encourage innovation in your workplace? What are some of the innovative methods you follow? What resources would you like to share on this subject?

We would love to hear.

Written by Santhosh Kumar


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