What is so remarkable about innovation is that it can be highly dynamic. It’s a task that anyone could do, given the time, education, clarity of purpose and commitments from our organizations, those that recognize the true understanding of the contribution all their people can potentially make towards innovation.
Today, too few people are actually allowed to work on innovation activities, yet the outcomes are ones that everyone wants, and certainly want to be part of. We all want that sense of belonging, of working on or in something that is exciting, dynamic and forward-looking. We really do need to find ways to allow innovation to be part of each person’s daily jobs. Having a sense of purpose to improve or change something through innovation is such a powerful enabler.
Getting from where we are today, seemingly bogged down in many of the legacies of past innovation understanding, seems to me something we must tackle sooner than later also. There is no time like the present to overhaul the existing innovation thinking and upgrade it with a faster, more focused innovating machine that yields greater returns due to this overhaul .
We do, in many of our larger organizations, still seem to have a real reluctance to make the really investments needed, for building more robust innovation systems and structures. Why is that? Often we even can’t adopt a basic common approach to innovation as a minimum and this will continue to limit all the ‘promise’ that is surrounding innovation. Innovation remains often poorly aligned and isolated, still disconnected from much that is going on within our organizations, where it can make such a contribution.
The choice is the innovation express train or the one that ‘stops’ at all stations.
Recognising some of market challenges and their implications that are coming rapidly towards us we have choices. We can jump on the innovation express train as long as we make a higher investment. Of course we can take the easier, cheaper option of following along, on that slow all station stopping train, which jogs along, getting further and further behind that faster one speeding out into the distance.
The problem is, far too many organizations decide to save their money and not invest in a more promising future where innovation can take them, they stay locked in the present. When they realize, often they have left it far too late to arrive at any ‘growth and opportunity’ destination, they have found themselves shoved into a side track while the express passes them by.
Some of their wiser competitors have already arrived and often well on their way on different journeys of exploration and discovery. These were made possible by investing in the right understanding of all the connections needed and knowing clearly the reasons for those chosen destinations. Some of those competitors were looking out of the window of the express train as it passed wondering why you are not ready to connect into this train and still standing still, waiting. They recognized the potential advantage in investing in innovation.
Buying the innovation train ticket you have the choice of classes. There is ‘just’ incremental innovation but you might want to explore the more radical, breakthrough and business model opportunities that are requiring different innovation capabilities and skills. By making the appropriate investment, experimentation and exploration the innovation journey has a potential for sustaining a real momentum.
What are the implications of not advancing in innovation understanding?
We do need to rethink how innovation fits within the organization. If not then we will never achieve innovations real potential and we will be left simply standing in those less important places or me-too organizations watching as the innovation express train rushes past, heading for growth and opportunities for those who have the innovation ticket. A ticket paid for by building the right innovation capabilities, capacities and competencies to make success happen. A 1st class ticket where the new routines are sustaining ones, aligned to strategy, built on sound foundations and practices that give you the inside track to better innovation destinations.
The willingness to explore
We need this growing willingness to explore the different types of innovation and deepen the understanding of what each type can provide as a deliberate policy is altering the competitive landscape even more in the chase for growth. Establishing the right approach, experimenting to learn what can become the right business proposition in its design is becoming a ‘must have’ skill in evaluation and execution. We need to adapt, be agile and flexible, we need to have a clear sense (and understanding) of the worth of innovation.
Where is your organization?
So is your organization still sitting on the slow train or is finally recognizing the value of investing for a faster growth and business prospect by jumping on the innovation express. To allow the innovation train within your organization to move onto the main line, that faster track, to growth and new business opportunities that offer new jobs, you need to make a sustaining commitment to understanding ‘what makes up innovation’ in its capabilities, competencies and capacity to exploit all its value generating points.
There is a growing hope we are in the final death throes of the older organization regarding innovation, treating it as not main stream but isolated and disconnected. Innovation should be a core competence. Investing in innovation offers the future, it allows you to speed up your activities and get to the destination of your customers’ needs a lot more effectively as well as potentially offer more of an exciting experience for those aboard. This is certainly the time to jump on the innovation express.