Tag Archives: Innovation

Innovating when the old rules don’t fit the new environment

anticipating change

A few weeks ago, I wrote about future-proofing yourself by asking questions that anticipate great challenges. Why am I bringing this up again? Because, like you, I still get to engage companies that are disconnected from “what is” and “what could be”. There is a huge gap between how they perceive their environment, and how these changes might make their products and/or services obsolete.

They, like others, say: if all is going well inside our four walls, why break it. Right?

Wrong.

This is tunnel vision at its finest. Breaking from what your know well is a daunting task that most organizations acknowledge after disaster has struck. Overcoming this tunnel vision is a leadership and management challenge.

But, leaders must understand that what worked for you in the past, won’t work again. Sure, there are principles/guidelines we all follow that are just common sense for any point in time. But, there other rules that become irrelevant with time, either because of external change, or because some company is pushing the boundaries and changed the game.

What do we do in situations like these (which is happening this precise moment)?

No investment in innovation means no investment in the future

accenture why low cost innovation is risky

“It’s absolutely ingrained in human nature that we simply assign responsibility for what went wrong instead of chalking it up to bad luck. And bad luck is out there. You can’t totally insulate yourself from it because if you try to, you really impair your ability to achieve good luck. And unfortunately, the world is sufficiently complex that you have to make the conditional assumption that you’re going to get some breaks along the line. Otherwise, you’re dead.” – Bob Hamman

Investing in innovation isn’t paying off for most companies. 93% of companies feel innovation is important, but only 18% believe it’s effective. That is the conclusion from a recent report from Accenture titled “Why low risk innovation is costly”. This isn’t surprising. 96% of all innovation investments don’t pay off. Of course, we’d love to flip that number and see our innovation efforts succeed 96% of the time. But, that will never be the case. It is something we have to accept.

I’m not being pessimistic. Luck plays a huge role in innovation. No matter how much expertise you’ve accumulated along the way, the simple act of doing things differently will make that expertise irrelevant. Accept it. Make peace with it. You have to expect and plan for the possibility of failure. There is a reason why we don’t see game-changing innovations. They are rare. For example, Google is a rare company that is betting on moonshots. Even so, with that intent, pundits are already saying that Google Glass and Google’s driver-less car will fail. Yet, most of us have yet to have contact with either product. When breakthroughs are attempted, skepticism is common.

Before setting out to innovate, we must remember a few things:

HBR’s 10 Must Reads: The Essentials

HBR essentials

Last week I shared with you HBR’s 10 must reads on innovation. Today I’ll share HBR’s 10 Essential must reads.

Again, just click on the link and voila!

Tunnel vision: The enemy of strategic thinking

tunnel vision

Two weekends ago, I went to Disneyland with my brother. We had a good time and got a on a lot rides. Including some I’ve never gotten on before. Astro Blasters is one such ride. If you’ve never experienced it, think of it as a shooting gallery on wheels.

Basically, you ride a two person pod that has two laser guns attached to it along with a screen that shows you how many points you have. Your task is to hit targets with the letter “Z” on them. Different targets are worth different points. And, as you’ve probably guessed, you have to accumulate as many points as you can.

What is interesting about this ride, beyond the shooting, is that the Disney staff loading you onto the pods don’t tell you about specific goals (points) you should reach for. Nor did I see any Leader boards anywhere. I did see people taking pictures of the screen where their total points is displayed. Most likely they were going to share this with their friends and brag about it.

It is a fun and exhilarating ride. Very different that just sitting there and looking at your surroundings. But…ask me what I remember about what I saw inside. Not much.

I do remember where I saw those “Z” targets I had to shoot at. I don’t remember much of what was around that. Interesting right?