Why is Innovation not just a tool?
Over the past 15 years in which I have worked in the future of consulting, trends, and strategic innovation market, I have come in contact with various methodologies and approaches to the topic. Some are more integrated and complex, others are simpler and even linear, all relevant depending on the objectives, deadlines, and budgets to which the projects propose.
However, one thing has become clearer every day: Innovation results much more from cultural work than from the mere application of tools. We mistakenly think that it is enough to create a platform or intranet of ideas, train people and think that this way a process of innovation in the company will be born. So many companies and professionals (and even teachers) have been wrongly involved in the purely procedural and technical aspect of innovation, without considering its cultural aspect.
A culture and philosophy of innovation will always fulfill four requirements:
1. Construction of the Innovation MindSet — considers a forward-looking and behavioral vision of the trends that most affect or may affect the company. Here, the use of prospective maps, business timelines and coolhunting methodologies and research into behavioral trends awaken people to the future and to what may be an opportunity or threat in the short, medium, or long term.
2. Innovation Skills — an analysis of the skills of each employee (technical, behavioral and management) is considered, with the consequent development of the least strong in each person on the innovation team. This phase allows all participants to be aligned with the same level of desired performance with a focus on innovation.
3. Innovation Process — it is the time to develop the tools, platforms, and methodologies for creating, evaluating and implementing the ideas generated in the company with an innovative focus. It requires the definition of an evaluation team, an award process and implementation control. It should be remembered, as already written in one of the articles, that innovation does not exist only to develop products and services. It serves this purpose, but also to look at business models, production processes, optimize performances, etc.
4. Innovation Agenda — it is not enough to trigger the process without giving it a certain permanence and consistency. Monthly, quarterly, semi-annually (depending on the level of involvement of the company in the project) relevance and visibility must be given to the work developed by the project. Whether producing reports or presentations, the company needs to see what is happening with the project.
To think that a platform, an intranet, or a workshop builds innovative cultures and solves the problems of companies is extremely short-sighted. Unfortunately, I have still encountered many companies with this type of problem.
Innovation is New Ideas in Action and as such it is essential not only to motivate everyone to build ideas (Ideation) but also to structure thinking and ways of acting so that ideas generate results.
Innovation is undoubtedly what will allow companies to survive in the short term.