Is it true that the larger your company, the tougher your innovation challenges become? If so, why should this be? It could be argued that more resources, bigger budgets, stronger technology portfolios and greater market access should make companies more successful at innovation. Larger companies usually have a higher number of smart people. They have processes in place that – at least in theory – should simplify the approach to innovation and make it more efficient.
Innovation in products, services and increasingly business models has endless possibilities. This is not just in what you develop, but also in what you communicate. Clearly innovation and communication to customers should be aligned, with the focus on the product benefits that will be most competitive.
I’ve been involved in a lot of discussions over the last twelve months related to the creation of new business through radical or breakthrough innovation. Some of them have been on collaborative work with the innovative market research agency, BrainJuicer. The essence of the challenge can be summarized as: why can’t large companies create new businesses? Many of the potential reasons were described well by John Kearon, the Chie
Many companies are very proud of their achievements, and usually with good reason. There are very few enterprises that have reached a strong market position with a profitable business through luck alone. Everybody likes to be associated with success, particularly if they really have made a contribution.
Innochat is a weekly Twitter chat involving a wide range of really interesting people from all over the world, linked by one thing – a deep interest and passion for innovation. If you’re on Twitter, and want to join, feel free to connect every Thursday at 12.00 US Eastern time, or visit www.innochat.com for more details, as well as the Twitter feed from recent chats.
The concept of Open Innovation (OI) has gained tremendous traction in recent years, as companies realize the potential offered by capabilities, technology and resource outside the organization’s borders. The OI principles outlined in Henry Chesbrough’s eponymous book from 2003 fall into two main areas, “inside out” when your assets are used by others; and “outside in” when you use other people’s. Most OI uses the latter approach, and companies who employ it well need to consider many different things, one of which is how to structure and organize their OI efforts.
I’m a big fan of the book Obliquity by John Kay. Despite the clumsy nature of the word, the message is simple. Objectives are rarely achieved in straight lines, you get there by oblique means. So if you want to achieve something, don’t aim directly for it, do the right things and you’ll eventually get there.
It’s an old saying that if you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got. If you keep on banging your head against the metaphorical brick wall, your headache won’t go away, it’ll just get worse. It’s the same with creativity and idea generation. New products and services will continue on the same themes they always have if you have the same input and approach.
It’s the stuff of legend that Henry Ford is reported as saying “if I’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”. This statement is trotted out (sorry….) to justify not doing consumer research on new products and services. The proposition is that consumers can’t tell you what they want; that they are unimaginative and uninterested until they see and touch the magical answer to all of their prayers, which our product will provide.
It must be a terrible feeling to be trying to innovate in the depths of a corporate morass, surrounded by the urgency of the day-to-day and banging your head on the metaphorical brick wall. Nobody seems to care and the corporate leadership is not only distant in the organization chart but never contribute to innovation.