My research over the last decades shows organizations have spent substantial sums on building creativity and innovation capabilities, motivating employees to participate, only to see their innovation investment come to very little. Organizational anecdotes abound about exciting ideas with strong leadership support reaching the point of final decision making only to see them blocked for a whole series of reasons - personal and organizational risk aversion, political agendas, weak and indecisive leadership. IT departments called upon to facilitate innovation as a way of saving costs struggle with stultifying technological infrastructure along with the other 100 projects they are currently building and the rhetoric of the continual improvement acolytes ensuring organizations maintain their business as usual approach. The list for "why not" is endless. My observations suggest there is another less obvious reason. Innovation in many instances fails not because of any lack of intention rather there is
Entries in leadership (9)
In creativity, it is often not until you have completed a piece of work that the obvious intent of the work appears to you. This is particularly relevant in the case of innovation. Personal creativity, the input that produces organizational innovation, never follows a direct path and this has important strategic implications for organizations pursuing systemic innovation as a prime business objective. Our challenge in developing the analytic, the Management Innovation Index™ (the MIX), was to model an organization's innovation as a whole system in order to make innovation measurable. Over 3 years, we trialed and amended the MIX with various clients
In the past decade, I have listened to many leaders across all sorts of industries and organisations dialogue about innovation but very rarely have I seen organisations actually embody and live the outcomes of these dialogues. Facilitated dialogues and workshops with the endorsement and often participation of company leaders invariably leave participants highly enthused. Yet very often after a relative short period of time, organisations absorb this optimism and little changes. Leaders attest to the many difficulties associated with innovation, not least of which are the political ramifications. Innovation is like a political movement, often polarising entrenched hierarchies, organisational elites and factions. Innovation favours ideators and implementers, those wanting to overthrow the status quo and get on with change, challenging anybody who stands in their way. How a leader handles this unresolved organisational tension is crucial to the implementation of innovation. Over the last couple of months I have observed a trend within some larger organisations in which senior leaders are starting to engage internal staff in something more than just dialogue about innovation. I can’t put my finger on what it is directly but for want of a better description I will call it - innovation action. Innovation action is beyond mere dialogue and seems to follow a rough pattern.
Accurate analysis around innovation activity in services and the services industry in the Australian economy is very difficult to track down. Firstly there are issues of definition of what the services industry actually constitutes and possibly lots of overlap with other supposed “non-service” categories such as Agriculture, Manufacturing and Mining & Resources. Secondly there is a paucity of understanding of how the innovation systems in services industries typically operate. In one sense the services sector has been a victim of its own success – because it has been steadily growing and has not been in decline like, for example, Automotive Manufacturing Sector, it has not ended up being the focal point for in-depth studies about its innovation characteristics. On the definition side, the Australian Bureau of Census and Statistics writes.. “a service industry produces services valuable to consumers as a final product, such as services provided by cafes and restaurants, or valuable to other service and goods producers as an intermediary input, such as wholesale trade and accounting services.” Hardly helpful!! While ABS reports that in 2012 services made up 71.2 percent of Gross Value Added economic activity and provided jobs for 86.1 percent of employed persons, there is only poor data and limited understanding about the operations of the many services sub-sectors, which are increasingly niche focused and which also increasingly defy simple ABS categorisation methods. As I started to look for detailed data and evidence to better understand the dynamics of the local services sector and its innovation practices I quickly started to draw a blank. I googled various variations on the theme of innovation research
The Current Climate With the US economy finally starting to turn around, China continuing to grow, albeit a little slower, and the awakening of global regional economies with relatively stable governments such as Central and South East Asia, skilful and measureable strategic innovation will emerge in 2014 as a key organizational capability. Yet, for all the millions of articles, interviews, tweets and videos offered almost daily on the topic of innovation, there is little real understanding and experience at senior leader levels around the length of commitment and type of experience required to make innovation a key driver for business or organizational success . In 2013, in particular, I had conversations with senior leaders in which they declared the time had come to grow their business again. Over the last six years since the global financial crisis, they have successfully managed the business by