Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Taking the 'In' out of Innovation

There have been many articles recently that have focused on putting the 'Lead' back into Leadership or the 'Man' back into Management. But what about Innovation, I thought, what does that need that it doesn't already have? One of my recent articles focused on Slow Innovation, going back to basics and making sure that everyone understands the concept, the parts that they play and the overall objectives.

This is, however, an internal issue for organisations. What is happening in the external environment that is helping or hindering Innovation? One possible problem is 'spin'. Innovation as a word is incredibly fashionable and sexy. To coin a phrase, it is 'in'. Unfortunately to take the 'in' out would take quite a bit of work, the best we can do is warn the participants in this fashion game.

Who is taking part and what is the problem here? First of all we have a message that 'Innovation is good' from governments, with grant funding for the wrong things, targeted at the wrong organisations, with advice from the wrong people! At a slightly lower level, Innovation is seen as a panacea for all ills. Wrong! If you hear this, an out of touch consultant is trying to sell you a 'thinly disguised' change program. Embedded within organisations are people jumping up and down shouting 'eureka' and wanting to set up innovation projects. Some may be well intentioned but they want to play with pet projects in their spare time.

This is making some very sweeping statements but next time someone in you organisation mentions innovation, think about what it is intended to do, and that everyone is speaking the same language. Ensure that Innovation is not just a fashion accessory, but an essential part of being a successful organisation.

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