What are the big unanswered, but answerable, questions when it comes to innovation?

question to innovate

This is the seventh of a series of weekly posts where I will answer a few common questions about innovation. Please feel free to add your own response. Also, if you have any questions you think we should discuss, let me know.

Last week Michael Raynor, of Deloitte and author of  The Strategy Paradox, contacted me because he wanted to ask me a big question: What are the big unanswered, but answerable, questions when it comes to innovation? To answer this, he asked me to share three questions or topics which are unanswered but that are answerable when it comes to innovation.

Here’s my answer:

  1. Is sustainable innovation achievable? This is the Holy Grail in innovation thinking. There are plenty innovation consultants writing and talking about how this can be achieved. That we can turn, much like other business disciplines, innovation into a repeatable process. Some believe it can be done, others are skeptical. What do I think? I think it is a hybrid of emergence vs deliberate process. What I do believe holds true is it depends on innovative, not conventional leadership. Innovative leadership will question and break processes, conventional leadership will bet and keep relying on processes.
  2. What roles does workplace happiness play in creating sustainable innovation? This is another emerging area in innovation thinking which idea is that if we have an engaged workforce, that innovation will happen because employees will put their heart and soul into the work. Common sense says this is true. But if it’s common sense, why are talking about it? Like you, I’ve been to various companies of different sizes, and not all hold this principle as common sense. Employee Happiness does not drive business-as-usual, it takes a back seat to it.
  3. How might removing patents create innovation? This is a biggie and much debated one. If there’s one industry that is oblivious to patents, it is the fashion industry. As a free culture, fashion benefits in both innovation and sales, says Johanna Blakley. There is a copycat mindset and yet it continues to be a thriving industry. Why is that? And why doesn’t it apply to other industries?

Those are my three questions. Which are yours?


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