Innovation learning curve
How does a batter become a .300 hitter in baseball? By taking batting practice, and refining his swing over countless practice sessions. How does a person gain mastery over a piece of machinery like a drill press? By training on the press and working with it for years. Every function, everything we do experiences a learning curve. Which is why it is a bit of a conundrum when people are asked to demonstrate mastery of innovation when it's not done repeatedly.
Talk about a learning curve - innovation means creating new products or services in an environment that may not be fully aligned to the task, with people who often have to invent the process. Since innovation is rarely repeated, the models and processes are seldom reusable, so the innovators are constantly reinventing the process. Each team of innovators faces a learning curve, and most never achieve mastery, much less sustainable competence, and can't pass on their learning to other people.
Ever wonder why innovation seems so "hard"? Well, there's never the ability to "master" the innovation process, and in most cases there isn't even a process. A good analogy would be to ask a purchasing agent to use a different system and process every time they acquired a product or service, and to constantly switch the product or service they were acquiring. How could such a person ever master the situation and become proficient? Now, we'd never ask purchasing to constantly switch tools and processes, but most firms have no compunction whatsoever about switching innovation processes and teams, but expecting excellent results.
Innovation is a capability, a process and a skill that demands a learning curve. If your firm desires a capable, engaged innovation process, then it needs to allow the individuals who innovate to gain the competence and mastery of the process. This means that they need to work to a consistent process, and innovate over time using different ideas as drivers. It will mean they will fail, and incorporate that learning. If the innovation teams can't work to achieve innovation competency and mastery, then everyone faces a steep learning curve with unrealistic expectations.
In this case, hope is not a strategy. Innovation requires a consistent process and demands a level of competence just like any other process.