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7 Ways You Could Be Killing Innovation

Companies everywhere know that to create a truly immersive customer experience, they must embrace novel ideas and new ways of doing things. After 25 years working with Lego, a company renowned for being as open-minded as it is successful, Christian Majgaard fully understands the importance of opening up to the unknown.

Lego’s former head of global brand wants to help you realize that, too. His session at Adobe Summit EMEA, “Seven ways to kill innovation,” will explore the mistakes that companies commonly make.

Majgaard has made it a priority to destigmatise failure whenever possible. When he was organising internal Lego conferences, he insisted his colleagues share one of their failures when they took to the podium.

“It’s such a rich learning experience to hear about people’s mistakes,” he said. “When people laugh they learn, and it sends powerful signals to everyone else that it’s completely OK to make mistakes.”

Of course, what’s a mistake without a solution? Majgaard has plenty of those, too, Following is a sneak peek at a trio of the challenges and fixes he’ll be talking about.

Failure To Listen
Have you ever stopped to consider the real purpose of your customer research questions? Doing so could have a huge impact on your ability to create a better customer experience, Majgaard said.

“It’s always the company who phrases the question,” he said. “The only questions they ask about me are about me as a purchasing animal. They don’t ask how I feel. They think they respect the customer because they do research, but they don’t do real research.”

By shifting the emphasis of your questions and trying to find out about customers’ wants and needs, Majgaard said, your company will discover the most important information that could lead to genuinely customer-centric innovation.

A Reliance On Rules
Second on Majgaard’s list of inspiration-sapping practices: companies’ habit of putting too much power in the hands of bureaucrats.

“These people see their role as creating rules and regulations,” he said, explaining that rigid structures are anathema to a creative environment. “Innovation is about trying things out and having no idea where it might end. I mean, if you knew where it ended, everybody would already be doing it, right?”

His solution is simple: a healthy amount of space between the regulators and the renegades. To illustrate this point, Majgaard recalled his advice to a well-meaning head of finance who was keen to help him foster an environment of innovation: “Stay away.”

Creatives should be permitted to “run for a while,” he added. “Let them be a little bit crazy.” With a nod to his friend in finance, he added: “Go and do some experiments and waste some money. That’s how you’ll start [innovation].”

Insular Operations
Being chained to your desk is another no-no.

“The only way to really to think out of the box is to get out of the box,” advised Majgaard, who, as an early adopter of nomadic work practices and learning from other organisations, has seen the benefits of looking for inspiration further afield.

Putting his budget where his mouth is, during the development stage of Legoland, he offered team members and their families free trips to theme parks around the world. By seeing their children’s reaction to different attractions, team members gained invaluable insights about what their target audience wanted.

“For most companies, the future has arrived somewhere in the world, just not in their office,” Majgaard said.

To hear more about these and the remaining “innovation killers,” join us at Summit on Friday, 4 May.

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