Comments for Foster organizational learning: beyond ideation

BLIN Laurence, DUBUS Sarah, GILLAIN Jérome, VAN HECKE Julien, VERMEULEN Julien

Capozzi, M. M., Dye, R., & Howe, A. (2011). Sparking creativity in teams: An executive’s guide. McKinsey Quarterly, 2.

The environment in which organizations operate is constantly changing. This is reason why if a company wants to be competitive, it often needs to innovate. Therefore, a company must ensure that each of its members is as creative as possible. Indeed, there is a direct link between companies' innovative performances and its people’s creativity. It has been proven that creativity is…
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The environment in which organizations operate is constantly changing. This is reason why if a company wants to be competitive, it often needs to innovate. Therefore, a company must ensure that each of its members is as creative as possible. Indeed, there is a direct link between companies’ innovative performances and its people’s creativity.
It has been proven that creativity is something everyone can develop by being in an appropriate environment, pleasant work climate and by changing its personal perceptions. This article focuses more precisely on that last factor. As a matter of fact, perception is intrinsically linked to creativity in the human brain. To perceive things differently, Berns maintains that « we must bombard our brains with things it has never encountered ». To do so, different managerial practices developed in this article can be useful to the development of employees’ creativity.

The first one is the immersion in a different environment. The employee is brought out of his office to see and experience different ways of working than the ones he is used to. The aim is on one hand to compare his experience with his implicit or explicit assumptions in order to relax his strong views on the operations of his own company, and on the other hand to lead to the identification of new work concepts.
The second one consists of exploring the deep-rooted company orthodoxies in order to identify and then challenge it. This practice can improve the ability to embrace new ideas, identifying new opportunities but also get a jump on the competition.
The following one uses analogies, that is to say comparing several companies, questions, problems or ideas seemingly unrelated. This can result in creativity progresses, particularly in situations requiring greenfield ideas.
Finally, the last one consists of imposing artificial constraints on the traditional business model. Despite imposing constraints seems to restrict creativity, it can actually allow the employees of the company to leave their intellectual comfort zone and enhance their creative ideas

But these methods are not enough to boost the creativity of people and thereby the innovation performances of organizations. Indeed, it is necessary to take into account the culture of organizations and the environment in which they operate, but also the environment they offer to their collaborators. Two points seem to be relevant with regard to the culture. First, companies must share a clear mission with their employees and translate it into specific objectives. Then, companies should not punish if their employees make mistakes. On the contrary, they should encourage them to try new ways of doing things. Regarding the environment, it has been proven that companies which invest in a creative-work environment can improve their innovation performances. Without taking the culture and environment aspects into account, it seems to be complicated to considerably increase the creativity of people.
Moreover, managers need to pay attention to the impact of the environment on the success of the four management techniques presented earlier. They also need to acknowledge that the idea of creativity itself is a very challenging concept for the human brain. As a matter of fact, creativity is linked to perception, and the perception of the reality depends on deep assumptions. Identifying and reconsidering these assumptions is incredibly hard to do because its goes against the one thing that our brain is trained to avoid: uncertainty.

Concerning further references, the TedTalk of Corazza Giovani about creative thinking could help to understand more deeply the concept of the “box” and how people could manage to get out of it. It is crucial to be comfortable with these basic notions if anyone wants to be able to understand the creativity concept. Also, we have talked briefly about the link between creativity and perception. However, this topic is a really complex one and there is much more to it than what was presented in this workshop. Therefore, the book “Creativity and Perception in Management” written by J. Henry offers a thorough insight on the matter by studying creativity and perception respectively and concluding on some managerial implications.

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ALEXANDRE Charline, BLANCKAERT Lucie, DEKIMPE Emilie, GENIN Alix, STAINIER Laura

Argote, L., & Miron-Spektor, E. (2011). Organizational learning: From experience to knowledge. Organization Science, 22(5), 1123-1137.

Key insights: This article analyses how companies manage organizational learning, the different externalities that must be taken into account in this analysis and relationships between them. The aim of this article is to identify where progress has been made and where additional research is needed. In order to study organizational learning a theoretical framework has been proposed. It depicts organizational…
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Key insights:
This article analyses how companies manage organizational learning, the different externalities that must be taken into account in this analysis and relationships between them. The aim of this article is to identify where progress has been made and where additional research is needed. In order to study organizational learning a theoretical framework has been proposed. It depicts organizational learning as a cycle through each task performance experience is converted into knowledge, and then that influences the context as well as future experience. This cycle can be applied at several levels : from individual to interorganizational. Among the main elements of the model are to remember the organizational experience, the context and the organizational learning processes. Concerning the knowledge, three steps were identified : the creation, the retention and the transfer. If this model is understood and integrated into the company, the article suggests that organizational learning will be effective.
– Knowledge creation is influenced by creativity which is affected by people characteristics.
– Knowledge retention makes the link between the stock and flow of knowledge. It is also the effect of organizational memory on organizational performance and how organizations reuse the knowledge. Research also examines whether organizations “forget” the knowledge they learn.
– Knowledge transfer is observed when organizations learn indirectly from the experience of other units. This transfer can be “congenital” and occur at the organization’s birth (Huber 1991) or after the organization has been established.

Implications:
The most important thing to know is that a good knowledge management will enable firms to gain in efficiency and quality. To do so, managers have some implications.
First, the firm should take risk, to go out of the routine. They have to experience new things so that employees acquire new knowledge. Then, managers should encourage their employees to work together and not everyone on his side.To do this, they could develop some platforms that would work such as social networks and it would be the place where every employee share his knowledge. This would facilitate the sharing and the transmission of knowledge and it would optimize the work. Finally, firms have to pay attention to knowledge retention when employees are leaving the company. To capture this knowledge, managers should encourage sharing thanks to rewards. These reward package can include salary, allowances, bonuses, share plans, health provision…
To go further, companies could set themselves the objective to reach some ISO standards so that employees agree on a common goal and visualize more the purpose of sharing knowledge.

Limitations:
As we said before, the most important thing for companies is to break the routine. If a firm is stuck to his initial goal and doesn’t evolve, doesn’t meet any new experience, there won’t be any knowledge to manage and to share.
Furthermore, the paper doesn’t take into account the cases where there is a lack of community and how to remedy it. Lots of companies put tools in place to improve their management. Nevertheless, there are many cases of failed implementation because the conditions were not met for the tool to be favorably received. Change management is the foundation of the implementation process and must begin well before the tool arrives – this is the key to success.

Further references:
– Zheng, W., Yang, B., & McLean, G. N. (2010). Linking organizational culture, structure, strategy, and organizational effectiveness: Mediating role of knowledge management. Journal of Business research, 63(7), 763-771.
– Shujahat, M., Sousa, M. J., Hussain, S., Nawaz, F., Wang, M., & Umer, M. (2017). Translating the impact of knowledge management processes into knowledge-based innovation: The neglected and mediating role of knowledge-worker productivity. Journal of Business Research.
– Vidéo: Knowledge Management and Innovation, Dr Kondal Reddy Kandadi, TEDxUniversityofBolton, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNUwZctwwhw

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Brognion Valentine,​ Lefebvre Mathilde,​ Martin Maurice,​ Sottiaux Alicia​ Vandeput Virgile​

LECLERC Olivier & MOLDOVEAUNU Mihnea, « 5 routes to more innovative problem solving », April 2013​

Introduction This executive summary deals with a new way to generate more innovative ideas. It is based on the article of Olivier Leclerc and Mihnea Moldoveanu published on the McKinsey website called “Five routes to more innovative problem solving”. This paper mentions the importance of adopting different approaches (which called flexons) in the same time to solve complex problems. Key points The first way…
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Introduction
This executive summary deals with a new way to generate more innovative ideas. It is based on the article of Olivier Leclerc and Mihnea Moldoveanu published on the McKinsey website called “Five routes to more innovative problem solving”. This paper mentions the importance of adopting different approaches (which called flexons) in the same time to solve complex problems.

Key points
The first way to solve problems is to mix the team members in order to have a heterogeneous group to work together. It allows to have different experiences, different skills and, therefore, to provide different points of view to address the situation.

The second way to innovate is the flexon approach. This approach presents five models and is appropriated to all situations, to all groups, to every person etc. The first flexon is the networks flexon. This model maps all the actors and factors around the thing on which you want to act and it analyzes their impact to compare them. This flexon decomposes the “big problem” into small situations, well defined and easier to view. The second one, the evolutionary flexon, implies the use of evolutionary algorithms that will be launched again and again to generate different results. It requires the intervention of hazard because it is used when you have less control on your variables. The third one is the decision-agent flexon. With this latter, all departments, teams etc. are in competition and try to allocate their resources in the best way, to reach an equilibrium. Then, there is the system-dynamic flexon. It focuses on the cause-and-effect relationships to have a better comprehension of their impact in the time. The last one is the information-processing flexon which considers all parts of the company as information processing units. It aims to bring out the costs of computations, the data and the efficiency of the resolutions.

The last key point concerns the possibility to mix these flexons together (by two or more) to really improve the ideas and the solutions. Indeed, these flexons are not a five-steps process that has to be strictly respected. These models are real tools to help in problem solving situations.

Implications
The first implication for managers in order to become innovative is about the building of heterogeneous and dynamic team. To make it, it is sometimes needed to totally rethink the structure of the company so as to implement teams in perpetual movement – reactive to change and ready to create this change. One concrete implication for a company is to become agile company which allows being more innovative by more intense, more fluid and more collective exchanges though using the perpetual change and the innovation in order to build a competitive advantage. The case of RTBF is a concrete situation of a company which decided to rebuild the structure of the company to become agile and to follow and create the changes and the innovations more easily.

Secondly, these flexons helps the company to have a clear view of its work in general but also of its projects which are a key factor for innovation. Therefore, tools are required and a similar model has been chosen to better plan a project, the Ishikawa model (or the fishbone model). It is based on probability analysis. This model and the flexons approach are quite similar for example with their implication of the cause-and-effect relationship but especially because they help to predict the future and facilitate innovation. Concrete applications are given in the article with case studies of McKinsey.

Limitations
The first limitation is that, in the common life, people are scared of change. There are many companies which are currently changing and, thus, where this is harder for older people to take with (ex: RTBF). It can be a real barrier to innovation.

Another thing that should be mention is that flexons can be very useful but actually rather difficult to implement. In the real life, you don’t always have the time to implement your flexon, it can be very expensive to buy a certain type of software etc. Other factors also limit the use of these flexons: the accessibility of data, the complexity of the real situation regarding to the simplicity of the theoretical model…

Further Ref
Ilie, G., & Ciocoiu, C. N. (2010). Application of fishbone diagram to determine the risk of an event with multiple causes. Management Research and Practice, 2(1), 1-20.
Kozlowski, S.W.J., Watola, D.J., et al. Developing adaptive teams: a theory of dynamic team leadership. In Team Effectiveness In Complex Organizations : Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives and Approaches. Routledge, 2008, 113-154

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BARBIERE Robin, CLOQUET Guillaume, DE WOOT Brice, GRIBAUMONT Bastien, SCHYNS Martin

(Article) Edmondson, A.C. (2007). The competitive imperative of learning. Harvard Business Review. 86(7-8), 60-7

Key Insights A. The first concept on which this article focuses is execution. And more particularly the difference between execution-as-efficiency and execution-as-learning. On the one hand, execution-as-efficiency is considered as the “old-fashioned” way of working. It consists in dividing the work in repetitive tasks to increase efficiency, as Ford’s production vision. But some drawbacks have recently been spotted in this approach like…
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Key Insights
A. The first concept on which this article focuses is execution. And more particularly the difference between execution-as-efficiency and execution-as-learning. On the one hand, execution-as-efficiency is considered as the “old-fashioned” way of working. It consists in dividing the work in repetitive tasks to increase efficiency, as Ford’s production vision. But some drawbacks have recently been spotted in this approach like the difficulty to evaluate individual performance or the loss of information. On the other hand, execution-as-learning is based on a four steps model applied in day-to-day work. Those steps consist in defining clear process guidelines, providing tools to enable employees to collaborate in real time, collecting process data and institutionalizing disciplined reflection.
B. The second crucial notion is related to the importance to ensure a safe organizational climate as a way foster the learning process. Such a climate incentivizes employees to propose ideas and participate to new projects.
Implications
A. To reach optimal performances, managers firstly need to ensure equality at the workplace. That means prohibiting favoritism and ensuring a fair and uniform working environment. Moreover, it is obvious that this equality must be present between genders, ethnicities, religious beliefs and so on.
B. It is then important to acknowledge the lack of answers to tough problems the organization could be facing. While it could be seen as a weakness, it has been shown that managers display humility by admitting their mistakes or ignorance. This encourages the employees to follow the same behavior.
C. Another crucial point is to maintain an open discussion within the company. Letting the door open to show the availability to listen and discuss is a starting point. Many startups in the Silicon Valley try to achieve this by working in open spaces.
D. It is also essential to have a shared vision of the organization’s objectives between the management and the employees. This implies that the employees’ opinions must be taken into account.
E. Finally, management has to keep in mind that motivating the employees is a key to effectiveness. It can be done by implementing programs to improve well-being within the organization so that they feel appreciated and cared about. Let’s think about the example of many firms adopting “team building” seminars.
Limitations
A. The first limitation concerns execution-as-learning. This notion is very conceptual and still difficult to implement. Some reasons for those difficulties are that the prescriptions given are not precise enough so that managers do not really understand how to implement them in their organization. Furthermore, this concept was created for CEOs without thinking about middle managers who might be better placed to implement it. Finally, tools to help the implementation are lacking.
B. The second one is that there remains quite a lot of domains, like fast food restoration or mass manufacturing, where the concept of execution-as-learning does not apply efficiently. Let’s keep in mind that the main objective of these companies is to be competitive on prices and create competitive advantages, they should then focus on this aspect.
Further references
A. (Article) Garvin, D. A., Edmondson. A.C., Gino, F. (2008). Is Yours a Learning Organization? Harvard Business Review. 86(3), 109-116.
B. (Article) Jamaledine, R. (2017). Employee relationship management – 5 Tips on how to do it right! Retrieved from https://www.potential.com/articles/5-ways-manage-employee-relations/
C. (Video) TedTalk by Luc de Brabandere: Reinventive creative thinking (2015).

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Anonymous

Self, D. R., Bandow, D., & Schraeder, M. (2010). Fostering employee innovation: leveraging your “ground level” creative capital.

Faced with a highly competitive environment more and more organizations must innovate if they wish to survive . This article relates the relationship between the top and the bottom of a company or an organization and enlighten the fact that , even if it could be common sense, the most innovative frameworks and ideas doesn’t always come from the top management (the decision makers)…
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Faced with a highly competitive environment more and more organizations must innovate if
they wish to survive . This article relates the relationship between the top and the bottom of a
company or an organization and enlighten the fact that , even if it could be common sense,
the most innovative frameworks and ideas doesn’t always come from the top management
(the decision makers) . That’s why the enhancing of a healthy top/bottom relationship is
primordial to settle in every organization . How the article propose to resolve this issue?
First, by leveraging the creative capital of the employees (by giving them more resources
and independence). Secondly by bettering the Organizational Innovation , knowing that the
top managers doesn’t always receive all the informations in time to tackle a problem at the
right moment and thus are not aware of the multiplicities of issues regarding the final product
(quality, consumer satisfaction ,…) which is a real issue for a decision maker .
For the implication, The article separated them in two themes general.
The relation between employees and leader: we have three points: share accurate
information, active listening and foster mutual trust. The active listening and the share
accurate information are connected. The information sharing in the company is important but
there is a problem in the quality of the information. For example, we receive every day a
great deal of e-mail with the information but most of the time this information is not us
necessary. The company has to improve the way of sharing of the precise information.She
can create for example one dated base. For the third points, the purpose is to improve the
trust between the employees and the leaders. But the employees learnt not to trust in leader
because the wage-freezes and decreases of staff. The leaders have several manners to
improve the trust of the employees to them. For example: decrease the means of control,
improve the safety, implement their ideas,…..
The other main implication for the manager is to support his employees into
innovation and encourage an innovation culture within its company.
To help the employees to take initiatives, the management team can for example implement
a system of rewards, that can be for individuals or even teams or for the whole workforce –
the important thing is that employees see that you appreciate their efforts to improve the
business. Another way to valorize employees is to communicate via corporate media for
publically acknowledging the employee’s contribution. It will not only show the organization’s
appreciation for the employee’s efforts, but sends a strong signal of what the organization
values.
The other point is to use failure as a learning tool. While mistakes from negligence should
never be rewarded, the failure resulting from an attempt to create new products or services,
or to resolve problems in existing ones should never be treated punitively. Conversely, these
incidents should be used as an opportunity to learn. An organizational culture that
acknowledges the freedom to fail without fear of punishment will yield an open and truly
empowered environment.
Concerning limitations, the paper gives 5 big rules for a successful innovation. It’s very well
but how it should be concretely implemented in the field. There may be problems that could
be encountered and we have to think about how it should be solved.
A study conducted by Innov’Acteurs in Paris about participatory innovation show risks
associated by employee innovation. The problem concerns that this innovation can lead to
work overload and internal disappointment. In fact, particularly in big companies, ideas are
not always well exploited or take time to set up on the ground. All of this lead to ideas that
are difficult to materialize on the field.
Moreover, it’s very difficult to build trust when the employees have a bad image of the
company and learned not to believe the management.
Indeed, when employees sense an incoherence between what their bosses say and do, then
they don’t feel trust and bad things happen. For instance, employees may be less engaged
in their work, less receptive to new ideas, less motivated to innovate.
However, to build trust on the managers, you can for example:
· Deliver what you say you will deliver. The key lesson is not to promise anything that you
are not sure you can deliver.
· Be honest when explaining the reasons for breaking promises.
further reference:
● Shin, S. J. , Yuan, F. , & Zhou, J. (2017). When perceived innovation job
requirement increases employee innovative behavior: A sensemaking
perspective . Journal of Organizational Behavior , 38 (1), 68-86. DOI:
10.1002/job.2111
● Brown S.,Gray D.,McHardy J. and Taylor K.(2015) Employee trust and
workplace performance. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
Volume 116,Pages 361-378.

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Anonymous

Cooper, R.G., & Edgett, S. (2008). Ideation for product innovation: What are the best methods?

The first place to begin crafting an effective ideation system is by identifying potential sources of ideas: Where do the good ideas come from? And more important, where should they be coming from and which valuable sources are you missing? The objective of this paper is to determine to which extend each ideation method is used by companies, in other words to measure the…
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The first place to begin crafting an effective ideation system is by identifying potential
sources of ideas: Where do the good ideas come from? And more important, where should
they be coming from and which valuable sources are you missing?
The objective of this paper is to determine to which extend each ideation method is used by
companies, in other words to measure the popularity of each method as well as to get an
idea of management’s perception of the effectiveness of the method in generating excellent,
high-value new product ideas
The study looks at 18 different sources of new product ideas in business and tries to classify
them in function of their popularity and effectiveness according to the surveyed companies.
The author groups these methods into 3 groups: Voice of Customer, Open innovation and
Others.
If we follow the results of the survey, a manager trying to innovate should focus on VOC
methods such as customer visit teams, focus groups and lead user analysis. The expected
result is a creativity influx coming from the customers who might have very different
backgrounds and experience the products in various ways, which leads to a big diversity in
ideas. On the other hand, the results given in the article would lead to advise a manager
trying to achieve a great ideation process to avoid open innovation as much as possible,
especially external idea contests.
Once a manager found what method suits his company according to the paper, he should
keep in mind that every method has its own limits. Indeed no method can be used in every
situation but some can be very effective when well used.
But the paper doesn’t explain the situation and the kind of company in which each method
works the best. So a manager reading this paper should read it carefully and with an
objective mind because the results shown in the paper can be biased due to several things
like the industry, the size of the company, a B2B vs. a B2C environment and the quality of
the method implementation. Furthermore, we don’t know how the companies evaluated each
method. It is very likely that these companies all have different criteria about what is a
successful method or not.
The companies selected for the study are mainly big B2B firms, so it is interesting to keep
this in mind when reading the results of this study to check if the information of the study is
relevant for your company.
Finally, we can wonder how these 18 methods have been selected? Are there other ideation
methods that the paper didn’t mention?
Appendix: Further references
Ukko, J. (2016). Effectiveness of innovation capability development methods.
Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice: the international journal for innovation research,
commercialization, policy analysis and best practice. Vol. 18 , no. 4 , p. 513 (1447-9338)
Spanjol. J, Qualls. W. & Rosa. A. (2011). How Many and What Kind? The Role of
Strategic Orientation in New Product Ideation. The Journal of Product Innovation
Management. Vol.28, Issue 2, p.236–250.
Cooper. R. & Edgett. J. (2007). Generating Breakthrough New Product Ideas:
Feeding the Innovation Funnel. Product Development Institute.

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Anonymous

Leoncini, R. (2016). Learning-by failing. An empirical exercise on CIS data

The aim of this paper is to analyze the impact of a failure in innovative projects on a firm innovative activity. First of all, it can be useful to precise that this paper concentrates on innovative activities and defines operating experience in terms of R&D. Furthermore, it’s based on four hypothesis that has been tested and validated through different statistical…
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The aim of this paper is to analyze the impact of a failure in innovative projects on a firm innovative activity. First of all, it can be useful to precise that this paper concentrates on innovative activities and defines operating experience in terms of R&D. Furthermore, it’s based on four hypothesis that has been tested and validated through different statistical tests using Heckman regressions on the data provided by the Community Innovation Survey, which involves more than 100,000 European companies.
1. a) Firms with more operating experience are less likely to experience failures in their innovative projects
b) Firms with more operating experience are more likely to have ongoing innovative projects. In other words, if a firm possesses more experience, the probability that new information coming to light is higher and these new elements will require further investigations and analyses, and will probably delay the ongoing innovative project.
2. Firms faced with failures can benefit from outside knowledge. Firms can also learn directly from the experience of others. Other failures have a stronger positive influence than their successes.
3. A firm that has faced an experience of organizational failure is less likely to fail again. Here is an example for airline companies: if an airline company experiences an accident, it will induce the firm to conduct more careful investigations in the future, which lead to learning processes. The consequence is that these airlines subsequently have fewer accidents than those experiencing less complex failures. We can notice the same trend for gas and railroad industries.
4. As ongoing innovative projects show a poor capacity to deal with innovation, they carry a lower likelihood of being innovative. In other words, a project still ongoing is likely to subtract resources from new innovative activity and so, reduce the probability of producing another innovation.
As a conclusion of this paper, failure in innovative projects can have a positive impact on the firm’s innovative activity, even if most of the firms tend to see failure in a negative way.
There are many managerial implication possibilities. First, the managers must implement a work environment that encourages the employees to take some risks in their day-to-day operations. Secondly, managers must encourage the employees to have a large and open vision of their economic environment; not only focus on the organization but also on the external actors (competitors, …) because their failures can be a source of learning. For example, they can ask employees to present a failure of another company (causes and consequences) or a failure that they have experienced themselves. Thirdly, managers must know when to “quit”. Whether the results are acceptable or not. If they realize that a project is not successful, they must stop spending time and resources to implement this project. They can try to modify it by implementing some incremental innovations or try something totally new.
Although the paper has reached its aims, it has some limitations. First, it mentions that higher levels of R&D decrease the probability of failure. Therefore, we conclude that this paper better fits companies, that have the financial means to invest in R&D. Moreover, we also learned during the courses that R&D may be efficient for some firms’ innovative activity but that it is never sufficient, which is not mentioned in this paper. Also, this article does not define the size of the failure. However, sometimes, a failure is so big that you don’t even consider its potential positive aspect (example: big failure in a startup that has required a lot of time and resources). Finally, one of its conclusion is, that companies can learn from external knowledge, especially if they are geographically or industrially close. Yet, companies tend to hide their failures, because, it gives a bad image to their customers and then, as point out in this paper, it will help their competitors.
To learn more about failure, we suggest 4 new sources:
• Tushman, M., Nadler, D., 1986. Organising for innovation. Calif. Manage. Rev. 28 (3), 74–88.
• van der Panne, G., van Beers, C., Kleiknecht, A., 2003. Success and failure of innovation: a literature review. Int. J. Innov. Manage. 7 (3), 309–338.
• Harvard Business Review, (2011). Learn from failure [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGT7X5R1bpw
• Pisano, G. (2015). You need an innovation strategy. Online on the Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2015/06/you-need-an-innovation-strategy

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