Innovation poses two enormous problems for most leaders given the way they are trained to think. First, it’s a time-based form of value. It goes sour like milk. This year’s “must-have” gadget will end up in a landfill next Christmas or at least be overwritten by Version 2.0. Second, innovation only pays in the future for which you presently have no data. As Kierkegaard put it “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Pull out the list of the “most innovative companies” from your favorite business magazine. With the exception of their brand recognition, which is the entry fee for these beauty pageants, they have few innovation competencies or practices in common that would distinguish them from the rest of the rabble—whether unique strategies, unusual financing or novel ways of hiring and staffing.
The term “innovation” gets bandied about a lot these days. For organizations to truly benefit from their innovation initiatives, they first must understand what exactly it is—and what it is not. It has been my humble pleasure to work with a number of outstanding luminaries in judging the MIX’s most...
Chances are, innovation doesn’t work where you work—or only works some of the time, mostly in spite of your organization’s system and processes. Why? Because you don’t understand what makes the innovation game so different from everything else you do at work—and you haven’t adjusted your playbook to accommodate these differences.
Andy Warhol knew it all along: “Good business is the best art.” And lately, a number of business thinkers and leaders have begun to embrace the arts, not as an escapist notion, a parallel world after office hours, or a creative asset, but as an integral part of the human enterprise that ought to be woven into the fabric of every business—from the management team to operations to customer service.
We recently ran an on-line brainstorming session we call “Quick MIX” focused on a topic related to the current Innovating Innovation M-Prize challenge . The question for the Quick MIX was: what is the one thing you’d change to make organizations more innovation-friendly? Last week we ran the first installment with eight provocative recommendations distilled from Quick MIX contributions. Read the second installment here for eight additional ideas.
You thought you did everything right—gathered market research and consumer insights; brainstormed, prototyped, and tested a promising new idea; developed detailed financial models and a solid marketing plan. Yet your company’s new product or service didn’t perform as expected. What did you overlook?
Just a few weeks ago Harvard Business Review and McKinsey & Co. opened the first leg of their 2012/13 M-Prize challenge: " Innovating Innovation ." The M-Prize's overall goal is to "surface the world's most progressive management practices and most provocative management ideas" and connect and celebrate individuals reinventing management. This particular challenge — where I'm serving as a judge — seeks "real-world case studies and bold ideas that demonstrate how every element of a company's management model can be retooled to make it innovation-friendly."
Management thinking is inherently faddish, but there are some perennial favourites that never fall out of favour. Innovation is one those evergreen themes: it is a rare CEO who doesn’t list innovation as one her top four or five priorities.