Innovation is dead, long live innovation (Part Two)

The story for bravehearts, rebels, new kids, pioneers and renegades continues

By Henra Mayer and Richard Copland

A quick recap for those on part one – Innovation’s death was questioned and challenged we put a view out there that people needed to look elsewhere for results. In unpacking the challenge we felt the noise was more about the trendy catch-phrases, excuses and fluffy titles had distracted people from the reality of the hard yards of Innovation to bring the idea to life and making it happen.

The lens is different, long live Innovation  

For the bravehearts and renegades. I paraphrase it’s not a matter of doing the same stuff it’s a matter of doing it differently, it is about seeing things through different vision through another lens. Like all industries the innovation development space has changed and will continue to change. New themes are emerging, learnings are being applied and crowded industry landscapes are being consolidated. The focus of corporate innovation is moving towards nimbleness, partnering with unlikely disruptors and practical back-end implementation, amongst other things.

According to a recent research publication released by Gartner, “The Practises that Deliver the Biggest Bang for your Bimodal Buck” – 5 key practises are consistently delivering the highest improvement in digital performance.  They are also, interestingly, the least adopted. It’s by no means a new message and according to Gartner signifies the pervasive ability of organisations to factor in and execute it. In other words, to make it work. This 2016 CIO survey found that the highest correlation to improved digital performance are driven by the key practices of:

  • Crowdsourcing
  • Differentiated funding
  • Differentiated metrics
  • Working with start-ups and
  • Innovation management

Each of these is not new in themselves, but they are not commonly used across organisations and most probably will be new to you.  The practices have certainly provided business benefits to their champions. The opportunity for Innovation remains on the field with everything to play for.

The big guns are calling it out, then and now.

Back in 1997 American business writer Tom Peters coined the famous phase Innovate or die. It was true then and rings even more true now.  Adam Trisk, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Skylabs calls this out in his article published by Inc, a premier print publication for entrepreneurs, pioneers and business owners, what happens when companies stop thinking about the future.  Being a follower is a perfectly good strategy and one that makes a lot of sense when disruption is forcing an organisation to focus on keeping a sinking boat afloat. But sooner or later it will beg the question for change, for bravery and thinking about the future.  These aren’t isolated cases as Steven Denning backs this up, in his Forbes article Why U.S. Firms Are Dying: Failure To Innovate, he writes about a looming innovation crisis at organisations. The message is clear, “in a world in which power in the marketplace has shifted to customers and customers insist on “better, cheaper, faster, smaller, more convenient and more personalized,” failure to give priority to innovation is an organisational death warrant”.

Innovation the reality check – those hard yards and making it happen.

We can continue with the “innovational smoke and mirrors”, proclaiming innovation to be about glamour, glitz and unattainable new technologies and advancements only stumbled upon by the few. Organisations, individuals and consultants alike can act and market as if they were endowed with a special ability to do magic, to predict the future and manage it, doing nothing more but talk and pay marketing bills. Truth is, smoke has a tendency to lift, mirrors are known to reflect reality. We should all be prepared to face the truth when it happens, to answer and take responsibility.  Innovation is not to blame, it is not the root cause of the lack of apparent results.

We can call it innovation or not, remove it from our business language, job titles and processes and remember it as a fad, – or not. We can also decide to blame it on our own inactions and lack of leadership, citing the “worlds dumbest idea” – maximisation of shareholder value as reason. We can point at people, infrastructure, metrics, technology, budgets and other stuff too if we want.

The kingdom and the fairy tale is for us to create

The future is for us to create. For us to do something courageous to get there and to drive it to deliver results. To take responsibility for victory, but it is not about putting innovation on trial, is it?

So coming back to our story in part one, in the end the warrior poets and soldiers found a new way to manufacture even cooler, more effective weapons and won their day.

Innovation Live

For the bravehearts, rebels, new kids, pioneers and renegades who wish to be inspired, revitalised and meet other likeminded folks we have our Innovation Live, event. This is our two day conference taking place on 23rd and 24th June in Midrand. We look forward to seeing you there.

Innocentrix is an innovation business and technology services company located at the Innovation Hub, South Africa. With a focus on collaborative innovation, Innocentrix also hosts Innovation Live, an annual innovation conference for pioneers. This event showcases the annual Innocentrix Innovation League Awards that ranks South Africa’s top innovation companies.