Inside the Innovation Bubble

March 21, 2013

bubble

After starting to follow and participate in the innovation conversation, my impression is that, aside from its share of buzzwords, more often than not, the conversation appears to be happening inside an “innovation bubble”.

As a technologist this is, unfortunately, familiar territory as it reminds me of the “technology for technology sake” trap that many large and also small companies fell victims of.

When we talk about innovation as if it was its own entity without giving serious consideration to the core business and commercialization dimensions we are doing the same thing.

Today, innovation, as well as technology, should be part and parcel of our core business and the way we work. Not an appendix. Definitely not their own bubbles.

Some companies do get it. This is what I found particularly inspiring when I had the chance to listen to Peter Aceto (@CEO_INGDIRECT) from ING at the Business Innovation Summit. For them business, technology and innovation appear to be one thing. They also talk very clearly about the increasing need for transparency.

For business, technology and innovation to be a part of a single vision and execution, we need a platform of transparency to build upon. Without transparency between departments and with the public, it’s much harder to get off our bubbles.

As a side note, another parallel that comes to mind is the one of companies trying to find ways of being socially responsible by making charitable donations or sometimes creating separate foundations. Don’t get me wrong, donations and foundations are a good thing, but nothing replaces the core business being a socially responsible one in the first place. Being social responsible cannot be an appendix, it should be a part of how we conduct our business.

Innovation Environments – Companies Inability to Iterate Hurt Innovation

March 16, 2013

The inability to iterate is a recurring characteristic of most large companies I worked with, and in my opinion is one of they key obstacles they face to allow innovation to occur. This becomes particularly visible and painful when solutioning for complex problems, to which the answer is not readily known.

The second characteristic that appears to go hand in hand with the first one, is that they all have a discourse of becoming more agile and innovative – even though all their processes, actions and funding models are geared towards the “build once & deploy” paradigm. There is obviously a gap between the desire to produce innovation and the infrastructures in place to support it. Under these structures, these companies become, at most, good at delivering against predictable problems – problems to which solutions are relatively evident and can be planned from back to be start. Although this is a great skill, it will not help the company successfully tackle complex problems that require innovative solutions.

This is one of the key reasons these same companies typically have less than ideal intranets and collaboration systems – because these are problems for which the use of the “build once & deploy” prescriptive solution approach will typically fail.

Allowing for iterations should be viewed as a strategic element for creating a sustainable ecosystem that suports innovation.

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