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Golf and the Key to Successful Innovation

We can learn a lot about innovation from the game of golf.

Did you know in golf one of the most important things to do really well is the set-up? If you don’t set up correctly to hit the ball –club selection, grip, stance, balance, direction, mentality, etc.– it won’t matter how talented you are, how high your expectations, or how much you know about the rest of the game… you’re not going to do well.

Same goes for innovation. Organizations that want to do well innovating must set themselves up to succeed.

If you Google the word “golf”, you come up with about 1.3 billion hits. Innovation is a hot topic too. It has been for a while now. Google it and you’ll come up with somewhere around 387,000,000 hits; 58 Google pages of hits in the last 24 hours. (Yeah, I know. It’s about a billion hits less but that’s not my point.)

Like golf, there is no shortage of talk about innovation and how to make it better. So are we getting better? If not, why not?

It’s not that our expectations are wrong. 86% of people surveyed in organizations across more than 25 industries indicate they are expected to come up with new ideas as part of their job.

It’s not that the organizations don’t value their input. 82% say their organization does value their input.

And here’s an interesting surprise: it’s not know-how either. 82% of those same people say they know how to get their ideas implemented.

Oh yeah, ¾ of those surveyed also say they have more than enough talented people on board.

So, what’s the problem?

Currently, over 60% say their organizational structure is a problem, over 60% say they are measuring the wrong things, over 60% say they struggle to work seamlessly with other departments, and over 65% of organizations say they have inefficient, ineffective, waste-ridden processes.

To innovate and successfully get those innovations to market, organizations need to take a lesson from golf. First learn the art of the innovation set-up: structure, metrics, boundary-less collaboration, and process. Then swing away.

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