My company wants innovation…

I caught myself asking for my newly acquired design team to be innovative something I now realise was unreasonable after my company also asked for the same thing of us.

Today at the Design Means Business conference the term innovation and innovative kept arising. Some clarity of the matter was distilled as the day progressed.

Mike Addison from Procter & Gamble provided me with some quotes that were reflections and affirmations of other sessions in the day;

  • "innovation is intrinsically risky if you are pushing as hard as you need to push" (and the business has to understand that)
  • "management want innovation as a process ... It requires specialness not common in everyone" (it is not a process it is a culture not everyone can be innovative)
  • "a culture of innovation cannot be switched on and off" (on demand)

Innovation is a culture that must be adopted by an organisation. If innovation is being asked for by the CEO then they must in turn support an innovative culture, from the top down, including the risks that come with it.

Talking to other delegates it seems that this is a common demand upon design functions in business yet, the necessary organisation commitment to the culture piece is rarely recognised or put into place.

The problem of generating new growth business is not solved by multiplying the number tries. It is solved when insights about how to do something better coincide with design thinking and entrepreneurial management in a host organisation that has the right combination of resources and sponsorship to take the opportunity forward.

The Growth Gamble: When Leaders Should Bet Big on New Businesses, and How
They Can Avoid Expensive Failures by Gary Hamel, Andrew Campbell and Robert Park