Your Innovation Problem Is Really a Leadership Problem

Innovation practitioners have robust tools to discover opportunities to innovate, design, and execute experiments to address key strategic uncertainty; to create systems to enable innovation in their organization; and to manage the tension between operating today's business and creating tomorrow's businesses. So why isn’t innovation happening in many organizations?

One root cause, according to Scott Anthony, is that too many companies use point solutions to address a systematic challenge: Let’s run an idea challenge! Have an ideation session! Form a growth group! Open a corporate venturing arm! Create incentives for innovation!

None of these is bad, but point solutions don’t solve system-level problems. Anthony suggests working on four systems — a growth blueprint, production systems, governance and controls, and leadership, talent, and culture. It isn’t easy to do all of that, but it is what is required to really make innovation work at scale. Leaders can’t just set the context and hope that innovation happens, he warns. Innovation is enough of an unnatural act in most companies that it requires the day-by-day attention of the company’s top leadership team or it simply won’t stick.

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