Rigged against innovation

By Michael Graber via innovationexcellence.com  Article

The Whole System is Rigged Against Innovation

“Work in innovation for more than a decade you see familiar patterns. One of the most damning, yet predictable ones is relying on the core business units to commercialize innovations outside of their core.

This tendency bruises an innovation effort beyond recognition, undermines the credibility of the professions who did the initial discovery, front-end work in the organizations, and threatens the mortality of concepts that can bring significant new strategic and real value to life.

In other words, this pattern wastes the money and resources invested in innovation. Some data-driven experiments claim that unless new concepts incubate outside of a traditional business unit, they will fail to launch 75-80% of the time.

Here’s the scary part. These are market-tested concepts that largely fall inside the core business. Ones that are outside the core have a much slimmer fighting chance of surviving the internal obstacle course on the path to launching. They do not get the resources and attention to make it onto the product or service roadmap. All of the option value created never meets the market. This too predictable pattern gets lampooned as Innovation Theater. A good show, but nothing tangible comes of it.

The simple reason is that the whole system is rigged against innovation. Since Frederick Taylor first consulted the first manufacturing plants, we have geared our enterprises on reducing risks, systematizing the core into a predictable algorithm. All of our Corporate systems thinking is about reducing the margin of error: Six Sigma, TQM, etc.

Therefore, when a Business Unit is weighing decisions about what to launch, it will make the safest bet, even if it means only slightly incremental growth. It will also judge all concepts through the lens of Legal, Brand, Finance departments and existing sales and distribution channels. This Top Down approach usually includes bloated Business Cases, fully thought-out programs that forecasts likely scenarios, and months of expensive Market Research that reinforce the argument.”

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