Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Innovate like its your job

Some of the (ahem) younger folks in my office have a favorite way of emphasizing something. They like to tack on "like it's his job" when they indicate that someone is spending a lot of time or effort on some activity. So, for example, you could say that a person is hitting the buffet line at Golden Corral like it was his job. That would indicate that you believed the individual might be a bit too focused on the thirds or fourths.

What strikes me is that very few people innovate like it's their job. After all, most of the people I consult with already have a job - a day job, taking orders or managing clients or installing systems. Innovation is something they've been assigned to, or, possibly, have indicated an interest in. They are willing to work at innovation as long as they can sneak it in between meetings or work for their "real" job.

I find this thinking fascinating. It's like whistling past the graveyard or ignoring the big pink elephant in the room. I have to that in many firms, the focus and emphasis on innovation will have to increase. We as consumers will drive this focus, since we demand ever increasing differentiation and product introductions. We as consumers want new products, new services, new processes, and we are jaded by what we already have. Therefore, firms have to become more effective at generating ideas and producing new products and services.

If that logic is true, the growth area - the area of most significant focus and change in many firms - will be the team that can consistently innovate. But if no one thinks innovation is their "primary" job, then where does the innovation come from? Right now, at this moment, innovation skills and capabilities are valued but called on infrequently. Soon, innovation skills and leaders who understand how to manage innovative people and processes will be in high demand. Then, you'll innovate like its your job because there won't be an alternative.
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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 4:51 AM


Blogger Swamp Fox said...

Re: What strikes me is that very few people innovate like it's their job."

I saw Richard Florida on Columbia, SC recently. He's famous for saying that the creative class is 30% of the population. This time, though, he said that the real latent opportunity in any community is tapping into the creative potential of the other 70%. That is as true for organizations as it is for communities.

9:55 PM  
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