In today’s episode of the Idea to Value Podcast, we speak with one of the world’s most well-respected innovation professors, Jeff de Graff from the University of Michigan.

Jeff has been involved in Innovation research and teaching for more than 3 decades (which is almost as long as I’ve been alive…), is the author of multiple books on the subject of creativity and innovation, has worked with around half of the Fortune 500 companies and is known as the Dean of Innovation.

Definitely, an episode not to be missed.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • In his most recent book The Innovation Code, he wants to dispell three ideas (02:00):
    1. that there is a one-size fits-all way to innovate
    2. how innovation needs to get away from using a standard process
    3. how innovation is borne from constructive conflict
  • Data shows that only about 25% of companies consistently show up across the lists of “Most Innovative companies”, so there is a problem with the way these lists are made (04:30)
  • Since 1993, the 10 largest Innovation Indexes have only beaten the growth-focussed Russell 2500 Index benchmark on two occasions out of 300 attempts (05:30)
  • Innovation is a meritocracy. You need the right players in the right places at the right time (06:30)
  • What company motives are and how that determines their desire to innovate (08:00)
  • In a crisis, the risk of trying something radical and the risk of doing nothing is reversed (09:00)
  • What distinguishes a successful innovation lab from ones which fail (11:00)
  • Most labs are good at ideation but are bad at scaling ideas and getting them into the core organisation (12:30)
  • Why it’s so hard to link innovation to share price and company performance, but how it’s possible (14:30)
  • What most people get wrong about innovation (19:00)
    1. Saying that everyone can innovate
    2. Benchmarking against incumbent companies
    3. Freedom creates innovation
    4. People who are born as geniuses
  • What makes people and teams creative (21:30)
  • There are people who are Visionary Creators, and there are people who are Engineer Innovators / Adapters, and they need each other in order to truly innovate (22:30)
  • The danger of social media is that you never end up meeting the opposite type of creator, instead only getting your own views reinforced (24:30)
  • He doesn’t think that it’s possible to build missing capabilities in your innovativeness or creativity. More important is to work with people who can fill your gaps (27:00)
  • Can you hand off the ideas at the right time in order for innovations to not get stuck in the process? (28:30)

Links mentioned in the episode:


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Creativity & Innovation expert: I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love. Chief Editor of and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as one of the most influential innovation bloggers.