Dig into the rigorous thinking via Google Scholar on innovation and you will find there are 2, 300,000 articles and books of an academic nature that have verified and validated every different type of known innovation process - disruptive, open source, front end, back end, induced, user, IT, supply chain, management, R&D and even innovative innovation!! Enough information to drive you crazy. And worse still, there is a huge problem with most of it!!
It perceives innovation as a theory and a process and it is neither.
It’s a practice‼
Innovation as theory is like reading a mountaineering book and then setting out to climb Mt. Everest dressed in the attire you had on whilst reading the book. Innovation based solely on process is like being lost with a map on the side of a snow capped mountain with wild winter weather closing in – very few will survive. Most will freeze to death. A few get lucky. Lucky though is not a process for succeeding in a competitive commercial environment.
Our own research on innovation practice in organizations has revealed systemic failure in innovation initiatives, regardless of consultants, theories and processes in up to 52% of cases.
Importantly, there are clear and identifiable reasons for this.
Almost without exception, the first step an organization takes with innovation is theoretical and tactical. "Let’s have Edward deBono or someone similar call by and run a creativity and innovation workshop for us" is the first move in 54% of cases. The results, 75% of leaders and managers say, were of little assistance to them in understanding organizational innovation. The common grounds for the dissatisfaction and failure in this response often lie in the manager's inability to match what he/she has learnt in the workshop to the organization's goals. Even more confusing is the fact innovation is intangible and a creativity and innovation workshop does little to remove that intangibility. The reality is innovation needs to be well planned and strategic, not tactical, making innovation a core business goal of the organization to commence. Otherwise don’t waste your time, resources or money.
Secondly it needs full support and commitment from the senior leadership of the organization in policy, talent, resources and money. Otherwise, it is a part time experiment doomed to failure and in many cases, once the workshop proves a waste of time, never likely to be considered again under the organization’s current leadership. If you hold the position of VP or Head of Innovation in an organization like this, seek a new organization to work with before you are made redundant.
Thirdly, while IT can enable metrics that are useful in understanding progress in product development, revenues from new products vs. old, and ROI on new initiatives in the way business is done, relying on it to be a full measure of innovation capacity and progress is dangerously naïve. IT systems fail because they are not able to capture the most fundamental driver of innovation – the human capacity to be creative.
Innovation as a practice takes time and is driven by human creative behaviours, something IT reporting systems can't factor in regardless of all the good intentions of their promotors, the software experts and their supporters, the knowledge management teams.
Last but not least, the value and results of developing corporate innovation practice take a long time in any organization to gestate. Unless the leadership, usual at board and senior management level, is prepared to ignore the first onset of innovation impotency in the face of practice and is confident enough with its innovation team to hold the course enabling the signs of innovation progress to emerge, our best council is simply don’t bother with innovation. It's not for your organization!
If however, you want to hear how a 6 year disciplined approach to innovation can produce startling results, then join us at the Management Innovation Index Global Webinar on February 16 entitled "How A Mature International Financial Services Organization Succeeded in Turning Innovation Into a Core Value for Success."
Hear one of the leaders of the Allianz UK Strategic Innovation team, Harvey Wade, explain how over 6 of the most turbulent economic years of the last 100 years from 2006 to 2011, an organization in the mature financial services market developed an internal innovation capability that helped to maintain its market position, drove increased revenue based on an innovation incentivised workforce, launched new products and drove organizational efficiencies in a workforce that has the highest level of innovation engagement we have ever measured. So successful has it become as an innovation programme, it is being considered for launch globally throughout the company.