77: Amantha Imber Discusses The Innovation Formula
Today I want to talk about innovation. It seems every business leader is trying to embed a culture of innovation and often foolishly thinking “let’s do it the Google way or the Apple way and throw some pink bean bags in the corner to brain storm”. Obviously it’s not as simple as that. Dr Amantha Imber is an innovation psychologist, bestselling author and founder of Australia’s leading innovation consultancy called Inventium. Amantha has helped just about every company you could name including Google, Coca-Cola, Disney, Lego, Redbull, American Express and McDonalds. She was also a finalist in the Telstra Business Women of the Year Awards and author of The Creativity Formula: 50 Scientifically Proven creativity boosters for work and for life.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and your role at Inventium?
Inventium is a company I founded nine years ago. We’re like a very niche management consultancy. All we do is focus on helping companies innovate more effectively. We’ve helped companies ranging from Google to Nestle and all sorts of other companies around the world innovate more effectively.
In this age of pop culture, celebrity and technology it seems every business is trying to imbed a culture of innovation and often failing. Why do you think this is and are we sometimes guilty of turning away from scientific research in favor of that next big thing?
Particularly now innovation I feel is more popular than ever. It’s a word that is used more than ever before and because of that every man and his dog has an opinion on how to innovate. Most of those opinions are based on what happened to that person at one point in time at one particular company and there is not really any evidence that that opinion will work. What I often come across is advice that’s just plain wrong. It’s confusing to know who to trust because there are so many opinions out there.
Your book The Innovation Formula I think draws from Samuel Hunters Climate for Creativity. Can you tell the listeners what made you want to write this book?
It was based on a few things that frustrated me. All the fluff and opinion around innovation frustrates me but also just how academics are able to make their work as inaccessible and indigestible as possible. They wrap it up in all this jargon and statistics most people don’t understand. Then you have to pay to access most journal articles. It’s so hard to get your hands on good research unless you work in a university. So I wanted to solve those two pet peeves and answer a question for people that I get asked every week of my life at Inventium, which is how do you create a culture of innovation?
How can your book help businesses blossom in an environment where creativity can thrive?
It can help by taking the science and making it really practical. I split the book into four parts.
- There’s a part that looks at what can individuals do? If you’re working in a company but you’re not a manager and don’t have a great deal of say in how the organization is run there are things you can do as an individual. For example one of the chapters is about finding the optimal level of challenge.
- The next part looks at working in a team. One of the chapters looks at the importance of bringing in encouraging and different points of view and debate around ideas.
- There is a chapter for leaders about the importance of walking the talk as a leader. There is no point in just talking about innovation, you actually have to embrace it and do it yourself.
- The final section is about what do organizations as a whole need to consider? One of the chapters is about risk taking and how as an organization can you create a culture where risk taking is encouraged and failure isn’t seen as a dirty word.
What’s the best way to counteract resistance to change in businesses?
It’s really hard. I think one of the biggest differences I find now compared to nine years ago when I started Inventium is nine years ago companies and CEO’s were asking should we be innovating? But now the question I’m finding CEO’s are asking is how do we innovate? It’s accepted that innovation is important and I think the mantra of disrupt or be disrupted is very real to many businesses.
Do you think organizations that fail to implement this culture of innovation could quickly find themselves getting left behind in this fast-moving new business landscape? (
They absolutely will. You see it already. Even the average life of an SMP 500 company is becoming dramatically shorter. Unless you innovate and have a predictable and sustainable approach to innovation I would say you’re in a lot of trouble as an organization and the statistics are there to prove it.
If there is a leader listening who wants to pick up your book is it available in the usual locations? And if there is large organization out there in need of your help what’s the best way of reaching out to you?
The best place to get the book is on Amazon. To reach out to my organization if you put Inventium into Google you will find our website which is www.inventium.com.au. I’m on Twitter @Amantha.