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Chip Heath and Dan Heath usually have something meaningful to say. Their first book, “Made to Stick,” made waves in the marketing world. It looks like their latest effort, “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard,” will provoke discussion as well.

A recent BusinessWeek article outlines the key points of the new book and publishes insightful answers Dan Heath supplied to its author’s questions.

Given the recent shift in consumerism and the rapid commoditization of so many products, companies are looking for a better way to innovate, so there’s more impetus than ever to get this right. So maybe a new POV is required here. Otherwise, would we need another book on “innovation”?

Actually, at its core “Switch” is all about mastering the process of change so that true innovation can take root. Ideas from the book:

Use a simple framework to modify behavior. Without behavior modification, change (innovation) is resisted.

Harness the power of emotion. Innovators will have to influence colleagues to embrace new ideas and M.O.s and customers, in turn, to embrace the resulting new products. The Heaths argue this is best accomplished by using emotion, not rational thought based on data. (This is sure to spark some discussion!)

Get them thinking. The power of brainstorming is important, but help eliminate the implausible and hone in on the “best solutions” from the start. By helping guide this process with a “checklist of solution categories,” this helps keep brainstormers more focused and more deliberate.

Find the balance between short-term and long-term focus and goals. That is, balance the need for incremental innovation for the short term with breakthrough innovation for the future of the company.

According to Dan Heath, company employees can be encouraged to be creative and innovative if companies provide three essential components:

Clear direction. Get specific about the way you want to innovate and what you want to achieve. Give guidelines to hone people in on the change you’re looking for.

Motivation. Use emotion as the lever to motivate people to innovate getting their buy-in.

Clear the way. Removing obstacles that choke the creative process is essential. Can you give employees quiet time to think, without PDAs and computers? Can you streamline duties? Can you move brainstorming sessions offsite, so the usual interruptions don’t clog the process?

Creating the right mindset and the proper environment for innovation is the primary function of management to be successful, the Heaths argue.

Agree? Disagree? What do you think of the Heaths’ ideas concerning innovation?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (www.designforceinc.com), a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.