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Putting innovation into practice

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You post a sign that says “Core Value No. 1: Innovation,” send out a blizzard of memos outlining what the “new” company will look like, and make a moving speech that announces your vision to the world.

And then? Nothing happens.

Here’s one way to put innovation in action, if you’re an innovation leader: Fail forward. Get into the habit of creating many experiments and celebrating the learning. For example:

“In this experiment we learned that people did not understand our offer.”

“In this experiment we learned we were charging too much.”

“In this experiment we learned that the button had to be in a different place.”

Each “failure” becomes a success because the team now knows something it didn’t know before. And it’s one step closer to getting it right.

— Adapted from “The CEO’s Innovation Nightmare,” G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Viton, BusinessWeek.

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