I encourage leaders to do two things to foster innovation. First, make the opportunity or challenge as concrete and precise as possible. “We need to figure out why so many people are leaving our site before completing a transaction” is much better than, “What should our next great idea be?”
Second, leaders need to keep repeating to themselves two mantras: Eric Raymond’s “With enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow” and Bill Joy’s “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” Organizations that internalize these insights will engage in “open innovation,” letting as many people as possible participate without regard to credentials or alleged expertise. The results will be surprisingly good.