It is indeed quite a difficult period for innovation in general. Both for the profession and also for activity.
The word innovation was one of the most fashionable and lots of company over-used it in their motto, in their company values, in all the internal and external communication. Not to use the “I” word was seen as a lack of being innovative and as a proof that you are not connected to the present and especially to the future.
And what happens when you make excesses? – A reaction of rejection. Too much use of the innovation word made people sick of hearing again the word.
So we should learn from these mistakes. What happened in fact? These companies have never intended to be innovative, they were just in fashion.
The biggest mistakes I think they did are:
- Never really invested in innovation, no budget for innovative activities or projects was allocated. They at minimum just tried to improve things;
- No innovation culture promoted. People were not made aware they have to be creative, to show and implement their ideas. The inevitable failure was not encouraged and allowed, all failures were drastically punished, so who would like to take even a small risk and do something different?
- The metrics used to measure innovation were wrong. The performance of the activity was measured using metrics suitable for efficiency not for innovation.
- Lack of know-how on how to innovate. Although it is a quite young discipline, innovation can become a systematic activity if implemented methodically. Use of methodologies and software would help.
- No training for staff on how to be more creative, where to look, how to change things.
And the list can go on and on. Now we are in a point where either we go to a transformation of the innovation focus or we get rid of the term or activity altogether. Some companies admitted innovation is not an important focus for them and decided not to use the term and focus on the current performance of the business. Others are redesigning the entire process. We have to admit not any company can and wish to be Google, or Apple, or Nike to name just a few. But most companies can benefit from putting more focus on innovation. They can serve better their current customers, find new customers and beat the competition. In this times to be on top of your customers preference is becoming harder and harder. How will they do it and if they will do it, we will find out. A thing is clear. Times are changing are changing fast. And if you cannot adapt, there are only two options – get smaller and finally disappear or be eaten by the companies who will succeed in doing this.
You decide if you want to be on the winner’s side or on the loser’s side. And you have the responsibilities of your shareholders, employees and their families. It is not an easy choice. And the clock has no patience with you.