The Boston Consulting Group recently surveyed 940 executives from 68 countries and all major industries to collect their views on innovation. For those of us who've been around this field for awhile, the results are all too familiar. Here are their key findings:
-- Seventy-four percent of the executives surveyed said that their companies will increase spending on innovation in 2005, up from 64 percent in 2004.
-- Almost 90 percent of the executives surveyed said that generating organic growth through innovation has become essential for success in their industry.
-- However, less than half of the executives surveyed said that they were satisfied with the financial returns on their investments in innovation.
-- Executives ranked Apple, 3M, GE, Microsoft, and Sony as the most innovative companies. Apple rose to the top spot from number five last year.
-- Globalization and organizational issues were cited as two of the biggest challenges facing many companies in 2005.
The bottomline, more executives than ever believe that innovation is important and way too many of them aren't satisfied with their innovation efforts.
We still see organizations trying the "quick-fix" approach: buy a piece of software, organize a 2-day innovation meeting, add some innovation training programs to the course catalog, get a bunch of people into a room and brainstorm ideas. All of these approaches can play a role in innovation. None of them will suffice by themselves. Some time ago we wrote an article on the ten big innovation killers and perhaps it's time to reprint them:
1. Not creating a culture that supports innovation
2. Not getting buy-in and ownership from business unit managers
3. Not having a widely understood, system-wide process
4. Not allocating resources to the process
5. Not tying projects to company strategy
6. Not spending enough time and energy on the fuzzy front-end
7. Not building sufficient thinking diversity into the process
8. Not developing criteria and metrics in advance
9. Not training and coaching innovation teams
10. Not having an idea management system
Full article at: http://thinksmart.com/library/BigTenInnovationKillers.htm
A common refrain from executives is that their organizations have lots of ideas ... what they lack is the ability to commercialize their ideas. Since innovation is the ability to create value from new ideas, that just means they really don't have an innovation process. Expecting innovation to just "bubble up" probably isn't a good strategy. We don't expect exceptional quality to happen naturally and neither will exceptional innovation. It takes a supportive culture, competence development and focused action. And, it is driven by leadership, who can set a widely understood strategy and allocate the needed resources, systems and processes that support a collaborative, information-sharing environment, and action learning projects that allow people to experiment with new ideas.