As a matter of fact, you may have heard about this innovative project or idea that was ready to lead off and nothing happened. There are so many innovations happening inside of organisations and so many ideas that don’t really go through. Since we started Echos in 2011 in Brazil this question kept us thinking why the innovative projects or ventures don’t really happen and how could we face this challenge regarding making innovation happen from inside out and not just from outside in organisations.

What do I mean by from outside in? Normally, organisations tend to start by looking outside their borders in order to innovate. This involves the traditional benchmark search from their competitor’s initiatives like the Silicon Valley director’s trip or just the fact that they strongly need to make things differently.

Typically, corporations start to promote hackathons, start-up weekends, and also investing in their own acceleration and incubator program. Inviting newcomer entrepreneurs and experienced ones to develop ideas “connected” to their core businesses.

In general what happens is that entrepreneurs and big corporations do not get along. Companies have all the resources available like money, communication and distribution channels and client base, among others except one: speed. The only competitive advantage that a new venture has is speed, and all the other facts are lost to the big corporation.

Status and prestige are the most important assets for a corporation. They have structure, economics of scale and power to persuade their stakeholders. Even governments. We already know that there are companies bigger and more powerful than countries.

Also, established organisations were designed to perfectly repeat their processes in order to extract maximum performance and quality. But, what brought success to these organisations in the past, won’t bring in the future.

As a matter of fact, these outside in initiatives are great ways to experience different forms of innovations, but are not enough for a huge corporation. This is just the first step to get people on-board by showing employees about new ways of doing things. This is only an inspirational approach.

Corporations need also to chase innovation from inside out to achieve success. Their processes are both their cause of failure and also their path to successful innovations.

What I mean from inside out innovations?

If corporations and governments desire to innovate, their first move should be to change their mindset. They need to see things differently. Remember, their processes are their innovation’s killer.

At Echos we believe innovations only happen through people. We believe that people need to experience new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things. And a secure space before trying out things.

But before thinking about setting your own innovation department or innovation lab from within your organisation, you should start to expose your employees and co-workers to these different environments like the outside in strategy mentioned above.

Exposing employees on outside initiatives will help in gaining inspiration. But if you really want to innovate you need the human resources team or culture manager engagement on your innovation strategies. They definitely know about their people. They know what they want and how to do it. But sometime HR departments are left behind in this strategic plan. HR teams are your allies to innovation.

Secondly, we use to say to our clients that “everyone wants the miracle about innovation, nobody wants the pilgrimage”. For the last 5, 10, 20 years, companies have been doing the same things to deliver their goods and services in an optimal way.

Corporations are hungry to innovate or in need of innovation. Sometimes they just don’t know where to start with. They normally think that they are able to throw new solutions into their market or new markets from overnight. But they forget that they become a specialist in delivering their goods and services. Any nonconformity would be understood as an anomaly of the system.

In order to really change this approach and design an innovative organisation, we developed the approach below:


Before going straight to the end of the story, corporations designing new solutions as well as delivering through their channels, really need to start by focusing on specific people or areas that could help leverage this systemic change in the future. That’s my main concern about innovation department or innovation lab. By creating a department of innovation, you are equalizing or telling your organisation that innovation is a function of the system and not a value from within the system. I truly believe that innovation is transdisciplinary. It is for everyone. It is a state of mind, mood, and behaviour. It is a way of seeing things and feeling things from a different perspective.

Therefore, the first step towards innovation is a new mindset and knowledge that acts as the fuel to spark a new behaviour. However, new behaviours only become a habit by practice. New abilities will only emerge and become excellent, if we as managers give the white space to experiment these new abilities. By doing this, companies start to carry out new concepts.
In the next article I will explain how we use and apply the CKA approach.

Ricardo Ruffo

Ricardo Ruffo is a born entrepreneur. From an early age, he showed interest in business ventures, using his likability and wit to get ideas flying off the paper.

An expert in innovation, Ricardo has training in a range of major universities around the globe, an approach to education he calls “mosaic learning”. In the United States, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Social Innovation at School of Visual Arts in New York City, and Berkeley, in California, where he studied Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He also attended, in Germany, where he studied at the Design Thinking by HPI.

Ricardo is the founder of various initiatives, including Echos, an innovation lab that aims to create social value through business and innovation. With Echos, Ricardo trained over 35,000 people worldwide. With offices all across South America, he is now on his way to conquering Europe – with an office in Lisbon – and Asia-Pacific – with an office in Sydney.

Ricardo is also a consultant and speaker on topics such as innovation, entrepreneurship, business design, technology and growth hacking.

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