Today is deadline day for the U.S. Congressional Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to deliver. Perhaps, a little ironically the committee was commonly mistitled the “Super Committee”. Interestingly, pundits and public alike do not expect the committee to deliver any significant, long-term solution to the United States’ fiscal problems. In fact, many do not believe the committee with deliver anything at all beyond reinforcement of right- and left-leaning ideologies, political posturing, pandering to special interests of all colors and, of course, recriminations and spin.
Could the Founders have had such dysfunction in mind when they designed the branches of government with its many checks and balances to guard against excess and tyranny. So, perhaps it’s finally time for the United States’ Congress to gulp a large dose of some corporate-style innovation.
… Fiscal catastrophe has been around the corner, on and off, for 15 years. In that period, Dole and President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, came together to produce a record-breaking $230 billion surplus. That was later depleted by actions undertaken by both sides, bringing us to the tense situation we have today.
What does this have to do with innovation?
As the profession of innovation management matures, we are learning a few key things, including that constraints can be a good thing — and the “supercommittee” clock is a big constraint. Given this, what is the best strategy when you need to innovate in a hurry?
When innovating under the gun, the first thing you must do is assemble a small, diverse team to own and attack the challenge. The “supercommittee” team is handicapped from the start, since it is neither small (think 4-5 people) nor diverse (neither in age nor expertise). Second, successful innovators envision what success looks like and pursue it single-mindedly – failure is not an option.
Innovators also divide big challenges into smaller challenges that a small team can feel passionate about and assault on an even shorter timeline than the overall challenge. This requires that you put as much (or more) effort into determining the questions that form the challenges as you do into trying to solve them. Innovators ask big questions that challenge the status quo, such as “How could we generate revenue without taxes?” or “What spending could we avoid and how?” or “How would my son or my grandmother approach this?”
To solve the challenges, successful innovators recruit people not only with expertise most relevant to the challenge, but also people with expertise in distant specialties, which, in innovation, is often where the best solutions come from.
But probably most importantly, all nine innovation roles — the revolutionary, the conscript, the connector, the artist, customer champion, troubleshooter, judge, magic maker and evangelist — must be filled for an innovation effort to be successful.