There are a number of memorable lines in the 1989 Tim Burton/Michael Keaton film, Batman, many of them delivered by Jack Nicholson as The Joker. Here are just a few:
- “You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
- “Batman … Batman … Can somebody tell me what kind of a world we live in, where a man dressed up as a *bat* gets all of my press? This town needs an enema!”
- “I’ve been dead once already. It’s very liberating. You should think of it as, uh … therapy.”
- “And where is the Batman? HE’S AT HOME WASHING HIS TIGHTS!”
But one of The Joker’s lines — “Think about the future” — is particularly pertinent to innovation.
Don’t Look Back
When contemplating innovation initiatives, companies often take stock of their core competencies. And where do they look to find those competencies? In the past. That’s where they live. In that regard, core competencies are like best practices: We can know what our core competencies and our best practices were yesterday. We can know what they are today. But we can’t know what they’ll be tomorrow — unless we’re systemically and systematically creating them.
Will you be able to compete tomorrow with the products and services you offered yesterday? Will you be able to thrive on the things you’ll have to do tomorrow if you do those things the way you did them yesterday? Are you prepared enough, resourceful enough, creative enough, open-minded enough, and resilient enough to manage uncertainty? Isn’t uncertainty one of the very few things we can be certain about?
And all those questions invite another one: Shouldn’t innovation be one of your core, corporate competencies?
Survey Says …
The fact is making innovation a core, corporate competency is a competitive necessity. It’s become something of a cliché to think or say, “If I don’t do it, someone else will.” It’s become something of a cliché because it’s increasingly true. If you don’t think it’s true, chances are you’re already behind to some degree. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of Batman (if not, why not?), you know it’s important to think about the future (fast forward to 00:57). If you don’t, the consequences might not be as dire as they were for Lieutenant Eckhart. But they won’t be terribly pleasant.
Don’t run that risk.