Innovation: Value or Headache?

When I have conversations about innovation, there’s rarely any middle ground: People see it as critical to ongoing success … or hype. They usually share some or all of the sentiments below.

If they think it’s hype, they think:

  • It defies definition and accountability. Just keep funding it because eventually it’ll produce something useful. It can feel like fishing with the wrong bait.
  • Ideas and insights can be produced in clusters or not at all.
  • It’s like a delicate flower: If you pay too much or too little attention to it, it dies.
  • It’s difficult to implement and sustain. Exploiting a good idea or two is easy. Generating good ideas on a regular basis is hard.
  • A failure. Most ideas and their resulting products, product improvements, services, or business models fail.
  • A buzzword. Innovation means something different to everyone who uses the word. So, it’s ultimately meaningless

If they think it’s critical to ongoing success, they think innovation is:

  • Not magic. It’s a deliberate and iterative process that encourages ideation, identifies markets and evaluates their usefulness at each stage in the product, or business model development lifecycle.
  • Necessary for survival. Even if you lead your industry and exceed all your targets, if you’re not developing new products or new ways to engage your customers, your competitors are. And you’re on track to become obsolete.
  • Able to grow revenue. When you identify new value propositions and deliver on them, your top line will grow.
  • Able to provide competitive advantage. When you develop new products or business models, you have first-mover advantage. When you develop new products or business models repeatedly, you become impossible to catch.
  • Able to produce products and business models that transform markets and industries. Uber transformed the cab industry. Apple transformed the music industry. Airbnb transformed the hospitality industry.

It’s possible that innovation could occur by magic. But it’s not probable.

If you want to make innovating systemic and systematic, we can help — without the headache.

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