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Racing to Complete IN: Inside Innovation Magazine.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on May 20, 2006

We go to press in days with a whole new magazine dedicated to helping execs build innovative cultures and life is frantic. Working with Modernista is exhilerating. It’s producing an amazing new magazine but more and more I see the biggest benefit in changing our own culture here at BW and McGraw-Hill. We’re open-sourcing all the way and changing from a diy-control-and-make perfect culture to an open-network-iterate culture. But the change is a monster. OK, I now apologize to every manager who ever read one of my stories extolling people to just do it—just change and get into design and innovation. As if it were that easy. Sorry.

One example. My Innovation Gym. I “liberated” a small conference room that has glass walls and is on the main drag. Everyone passes it. I took down all the photos of CEOs in heroic posses, put up provocative images of faces and buildings and icons from the Modernista prototype, brought in tons of stuff to stimulate ideas and conversation and put up a big sign saying Innovation Lab. People thought that was too formal so I put a line through “Lab” and said “Gym.” This is where IN was created. But……..

The Innovation Gym drove some people nuts. Can you DO that? This became a fascinating litmus test kind of question. Taking the photos of heroic CEOs off the wall drove some people off the wall. Can you DO that? Taking over the conference room for a month. Can you Do that?
Bringing in outside strangers to partner with in a new magazine. Can you DO that?

Lots of people passed by the gym or came in and just smiled and laughed and said, Oh yeah, good. Nice. What's happening here? Can I join in? And lots of people wrinkled their brows in disapproval. And don't believe for one minute it had anything to do with age. I had more disapprovals from people under 40 than people over 40. What's with that?

So I proposed to my bosses that we simply take the entire staff and run everyone through the lab. Anyone who says Can you DO that, we fire. Because, in a proverbial blink, we discover who is open to innovation, and who is not. Of course, they smiled and said "no." Something about HR. Of course, rules-bound HR would probably look at the Innovation Gym and say Can you DO that?

So I'm now going back to editing the IN cover story on the most amazing drivers of innovation in the world. I am just stunned at how totally cool it looks and how insightful and useful the information is. I'm telling you, you've never seen anything like this magazine.

By the way, did I mention that P&G's Claudia Kotchka played a tremendous role in helping me shape the content of Inside Innovation? She knows what business people need in building innovation cultures. Thank you Claudia. Issue #1 is dedicated to you.

Reader Comments

Tom Guarriello

May 20, 2006 10:20 PM

It's so good to hear someone talk about the reality of doing things differently in organizations. Your insight about your assumptions ("hey, just change...") is invaluable: once you've been on the disruptor side, you really get to know how hard it is. My firm helps organizations with design-driven culture change every day, so I'm eagerly looking forward to issue #1 of IN.

Good luck!

Douglass Turner

May 20, 2006 11:47 PM


I don't know about anyone else, but I am really enjoying this play by play. Keep it coming.

skype: dduuggllaa

Niti Bhan

May 21, 2006 11:42 PM

I must agree with Tom, Bruce, way to go with your sharing the "Inside" INside Innovation story. I can't answer your age question, but certainly I think you've hit the nail on the head on how to identify those open to innovation - they ask "Can you DO that?"

good luck

jim wilde

May 23, 2006 8:48 PM

Hey Bruce,

Thanks for sharing your insights about implementing " perfect culture to an open-network-iterate culture".

I hear, "can we do that?" a lot usually when we first set up a social network platform in an enterprise environment. Although, as the platform is adopted I hear it less and less.

Good luck.


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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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