Thursday, February 09, 2006

Innovation Landrush

There's a time in every market, a phase of development, when the market is recognized as real, and everyone rushes in to place their flag and claim their territory. The analogy, of course, is the Oklahoma land rush, when settlers lined up and raced to their favorite locations in Oklahoma to stake their claim.

Where innovation is concerned, I think the land rush is on. Many firms with many different approaches are moving into this critical management need, to define the space and carve out differentiated positions. The truth is, no one firm "owns" much real estate in innovation yet.

There is no Miller-Heiman of sales process for innovation, one of the few definitive selling methodologies. There is no Sarbanes-Oxley, defining legislation which is forcing CFOs of public companies to scramble. There is no SAP or other large, predominant software provider to crowd out the other players.

Nope, mostly right now there are a number of firms carving out distinct capabilities and messages having to do with the entire pantheon of needs where innovation is concerned. Some firms focus on training. Some firms focus on changing the cultural landscape to make innovation more acceptable. Some firms attempt to define business processes and methodologies. One of these firms will become the gold standard for innovation processes, just like Six Sigma became a gold standard for those concerned about quality.

Let's face it, we are early in the process of sorting out winners and losers in carving up the innovation space. I think we can say clearly that US businesses need help with training, change management, processes and software to improve innovation, but there are no "standards" yet. And in some circumstances, there may not be an evolved standard, since product innovation is somewhat different from service innovation, or incremental innovation is fairly different from disruptive innovation.

This period in the evolution of the innovation space is natural and normal. Life rushes in and creates a lot of different alternatives, and gradually the winners will emerge. It's an exciting time to be working in innovation.
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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 5:01 AM

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