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Are you experimenting?

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I recently started a MOOC on how to create new companies. Thus far the course is focusing largely on how to start a company and bring your idea to fruition through that channel. Classic entrepreneurship in other words.

The principles and philosophies discussed in the course apply equally when trying to bring new ideas to 'market' within an organisation. A central part of innovation is what Schumpeter termed creative destruction. Usually that term applies to the destruction of incumbents by nimble newcomers. Think about how powerful it can be when you use the phrase in relation to your own ideas however.

It involves taking an experimental approach to your work, trying lots of things out on a small scale. That way, if things fail you will have largely flown under the radar. Your failure won't have cost much in terms of resources, and more importantly it won't have cost you political capital within your organisation. You can take your learnings with you to your next experiment without the failure torpedoing your career.

Crossing the chasm

Of course when you do find something that works, not only do you have measurable results with which you can secure the extra investment and resources required, you'll also have a team of early adopters that you can use to help spread the word for you. Gary Hamel is a huge advocate of this approach to working and the philosophy underpins his Management Innovation Exchange.

The following is a fascinating talk by his friend Seth Godin on the value of failing under the radar, especially if you are not bestowed with much organisational clout.