Driving Ideas on Your Innovation Highway

The way drivers merge from the highway on-ramp into a lane of traffic parallels how people introduce ideas into an organization's innovation pipeline:

The Coast is Clear driver waits until no cars can be seen in the first lane of traffic before even beginning to attempt a merge. The car merges safely, but often creates quite the backup at the on-ramp.

The Here I Come driver does the reverse, barreling into the lane at full speed regardless of the existing flow of traffic. Other cars often have to change lanes to avoid a collision.

The Get in the Gap driver merges at the first sign of available space, but often does so too slowly instead of quickly accelerating to the flow of traffic. As a result other cars have to slow down.

The I'm Coming Through driver flies straight from the ramp across multiple lanes of traffic instead of successfully merging into the first lane and then changing lanes one at a time.

The Fast and Focused driver accelerates on the ramp and enters the lane at relatively the same speed of other cars, merging successfully into an appropriate opening between cars.

Each of these driving approaches—whether you are trying to drive a car on the highway or an idea into your organization's menu of activity—has risks associated with it. Only the Fast and Focused approach, however, uses the time before entry to get up to speed so once in traffic you can drive without disrupting the flow of other cars or ideas.