What is an innovation hub?
You can use innovation hubs to solve complex problems, create new ideas, and even test the effectiveness of the practices and technology you already have in place. Because innovation hubs are so loosely defined, it’s not a good idea to constrain it to one interpretation.
The point is to experiment, remove barriers to new ideas, and foster them into something we can actually use. They can serve as a gathering space for like-minded individuals interested in the same goal, technology, or problem. They emphasize network and community, bringing a diverse group of people together.
Just participating in an innovation hub is enough to move our teams closer to innovation. Even if nothing particularly groundbreaking comes out of a hub, the interactions, networking opportunities, and acknowledgment that the next big idea is ahead and not behind, puts us closer to the solutions we’re looking for.
Best practices for starting an innovation hub
It’s important not to confuse creativity with something unstructured. Try to provide some structure to guide the innovation and exchange of ideas, but not so much that it puts a cap on people’s creativity.
Start with a goal. This is a great way to start an innovation hub and focus the efforts toward a common goal. Having a goal will help to guide the creative process and bring people together.
Define the metrics for success. Without them, you won’t be able to measure the success of your creative hub and the ideas that come out of it. You should also try to align your metrics with the goal of your creative hub.
Make your hub diverse. Try reaching out to people in different ways and get people from a diverse range of backgrounds. This will help increase the potential pool of ideas and provide new outlets for previously untapped creativity.
Structured, but not too structured
The main point of an innovation hub is to experiment, remove barriers to new ideas, and foster them into something we can actually use. This is the place to experiment and make mistakes. People shouldn’t be afraid to fail, and there should be the expectation that most ideas probably will fail.
Forcing the hub to align with the goals set out from the start defeats the purpose of the loose structure and is not a good way to start an innovation hub. We don’t know the best ideas from the outset, so why limit ourselves from potentially reaching something better.
Avoid creating a rigid structure for your hub, relying on a few experience individuals, and forcing the creative process to go where you think it should go. Innovation hubs require having an open mind and acknowledging that the best ideas can come from where you least expect them.