The politics of innovation
Wikipedia quotes Aristotle as saying that "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it". Likewise, innovation, while "important" to many different groups and functions within an organization, seems to suffer from a lack of attention and focus.
Lately, I've spent a fair amount of time working with firms to help create innovation programs and central innovation teams. This work inevitably meets with concern from other existing teams and initiatives. These groups believe that either
- "Everyone" should participate in innovation or
- Innovation is already a responsibility of one or several teams or
- Innovation can't be managed at all
This problem alone is enough to establish a central innovation team that is managed and measured on innovation results. I'd rather place all my eggs in one basket, and watch that basket very closely, than hope that a broad cross-section of the organization is going to spend time on something they don't believe is urgent.
This is not to say that innovation should be "owned" by any one group within the organization. Clearly, there are teams, initiatives and product or service groups throughout any organization that are capable of innovation and that should be innovating. But if there's not a team that's consistently measured on innovation, little innovation will get done.