It's like reading Das Capital and trying to understand the dialectic, whatever that is. Why use simple explanations and examples when long, amorphous sounding phrases will work? I feel the same way about innovation. There's far too much talk about innovation and theory and discussion but just not enough action. And far too frequently the reasons behind that are not structural but expectations.
I spoke recently with a senior individual in a large firm who is convinced that innovation must happen outside the "normal" business process. This person felt that people were too ill-informed or too busy to innovate and generate new ideas. What gets in the way of people generating ideas as part of their day to day job? Expectations and quarterly result pressure. But surely most people in that rather large business experience challenges or identify opportunities that they can pass along as a new idea or product. Certainly they can take a few minutes out of their schedule to evaluate an idea that may have merit to their business. Otherwise we may as well transfer all innovation work to the business development guys.
There's simply too much talk about innovation and not enough experimentation and trials. As the talk increases, the level of discourse is not improving, and is only creating barriers as the expectations increase. What most firms need now is to provide tools, processes and training to their innovative folks and get out of the way. Instead, most firms keep talking about innovation and raising the bar, and more and more people are discouraged from getting anything started since it can't possibly measure up to the talk.
We need more experiments, more trials, more intentional accidents. We need to set the expectations that everyone should be involved in innovation - at least to the extent of generating and submitting ideas. As we define an innovation "team", let's take care not to create innovation ghettos. Too many people are being left out of the process, which means too many ideas aren't being discovered and evaluated.
Yes, we want ideas that the firm can capitalize on, and yes, there needs to be some evaluation of the ideas and better portfolio management, but right now we are reaching a cusp where the expectations for innovation are beginning to discourage the average employee from participating.
I'd like to see an approach where any employee can "just innovate". That innovation by any person is the baseline expectation, and that the organization will sponsor and support those who innovate. We need to build the enthusiasm and the processes at the same time. Right now I think we are raising the bar without increasing the involvement or investment.