Innovation has moved from its origins in the depths of R&D departments to permeate all aspects of the organisation itself, from products & services to business models, channels and customer experiences, with everyone in the business expected to innovate in some capacity or other.
Is this a realistic expectation? Julian Birkinshaw and his co-writers recently looked at this issue in a recently published article in MITSloan Management Review and identified 5 ‘myths’ that impact businesses’ innovation efforts.
Myth 1. The Eureka Moment: it’s not about the flash of insight and inspiration, it’s about the sweat and tears further down the ‘pipeline’ in developing the detail where most companies struggle.
Myth 2. Build it and They Will Come: online innovation forums, while potentially useful in getting a large number of people involved in the innovation process can also be limited by a lack of sustained interest, or worse, an unmanageable amount of half baked ideas that require serious management time.
Myth 3. Open Innovation is the Future: while most large companies believe a more open approach to innovation is necessary they do not appreciate the potential costs of such an approach. A selective use of open innovation is needed.
Myth 4. Pay is Paramount: many organisations believe that there needs to be some sort of additional financial inducement to get employees to innovate beyond their daily responsibilities. Research shows this to be a redherring with personal status and recognition offering more reward.
Myth 5. Bottom Up Innovation is Best: there is little evidence to suggest a groundswell of innovation that emerges from lower down in an organisation. All successful innovations ultimately depend on getting picked up, sponsored and prioritised by top management. Both bottom up and top down innovation efforts must work in tandem.