Many organizations in both the public and private sectors suffer from a corporate culture which is risk averse and fearful of failure. People are reluctant to try new things or even to suggest innovations. They remember old stories about colleagues being punished for experiments that failed. They have learnt that it is safest to keep a low profile and focus on standard operating procedures. Mean while the executive committee is desperately trying to think of ways to make the outfit more agile and innovative.
Though companies invest into innovation they like results less and less. There seems to be a glass ceiling for driving innovation, which neither new tools and processes nor innovation consultants seem to crack. It is time to face the elephant in the room: company culture and its impact on innovation performance. Top management needs to learn deal with it. Then company culture will become a driver of innovation rather than getting in the way.
Amy Radin became one of America’s first Chief Innovation Officers when Citigroup appointed her to the role in 2005. She is currently Chief Innovation officer at E*Trade Financial, the leading online discount stock brokerage. Amy talks to Innovation Management about what it takes to be a head up on innovation in a major corporation.
When starting innovation, a lot of the same mistakes are made over and over again. Here is how you can recognize and avoid them.
Gartner predicts that four of five large enterprises that pursue social innovation with their employees and the world at large will, over the next couple years, fail in their endeavors. Ouch. Meatloaf gave better odds. In this article innovation architect Doug Collins explores how you might increase the odds of gaining a coveted membership to the twenty percent club.
Innovation is a paradox for management. On the one hand you are well aware that you have to take new roads before you reach the end of the present dead end street. On the other hand it is risky. It takes a lot of time. And it takes a lot of resources. Research shows that only one out of seven innovation projects is successful. So saying yes to innovation is a step into the unknown. It creates fear of failure, which causes fear to innovate. It’s like sailing to the South Pole like Shackleton, where the surrounding ice can stop you any moment.
Many organizations experience a strong logical need for more innovation, yet weeks, months and years can go by without any action. The reason is simple: innovation efforts are inherently risky and can (by definition) fail. And failure can sting. Therefore, taking the out of failure is an integral part of the solution.
At the beginning of every year, I pick one solid quote to live by for the year. This year, my quote comes from Neil Gaiman. Gaiman himself never graduated from college. He never even enrolled in college. Yet, today, he is one of the most celebrated and prolific writers working today.
Noam Wasserman, of Harvard Business School, explains how he came to focus on trying to understand why high potential startups commonly fail. According to Wasserman, while a certain percentage of these ventures succumb to issues of product or market fit, the vast majority meet their end due to people problems.
Fail fast. Fail cheap. Fail early. Go out to fail. We have all heard these words numerous times in connection to innovation and how to create radical innovation, the ultimate dream for all of us involved in the field. In fact the f-word is used so frequently in connection to innovation that it is about to become yet another meaningless slogan. Why is failure so hard? In this blog post Susanna Bill takes failure out of slogans and into a human orientated perspective.
Innovation is not a monopoly of Silicon Valley, says venture capitalist Randy Komisar. But entrepreneurship as a profession, he notes, is practiced best on KPCB’s home turf. Here, failure isn’t personal, and it is tolerated for approximately 70 percent of the businesses that launch here. The Valley offers a unique understanding that Plan A is often flawed and that failure is a necessity for true innovation, and thus it offers the space for smart and inventive people to reassess and move on to the next venture. This key difference that has evolved over the past 70 years, says Komisar, is what has made Silicon Valley thrive.
According to Bill Fisher, the decline of telephony innovator RIM (creator of the once-popular Blackberry) wasn’t suddenly victimized by market forces or an unseen competitor that “Amazoned” it. Rather, it was a victim of its own sluggish leadership and inability to make decisions in the face of aggressive, faster-moving smartphone rivals. In short, like many companies in numerous industries before it, RIM became a victim of its own past success.
Western societies and the systems we depend on to make them function are becoming ever more complex. As a result, they are also becoming more vulnerable to catastrophic, systemic failure. As individuals, communities and societies we may, at the same time, be becoming less able to cope with such events as we lose basic skills, families are more scattered and communities less connected.
In a slow or no-growth environment, we know successful innovation is absolutely essential for companies to establish and maintain a competitive advantage. While that may be yesterday’s news, achieving it is hard work. How can you achieve high value from your innovation initiatives? In this article Adi Alon discusses four key success factors that can help you get a higher return on innovation.
According to Randy Komisar, what distinguishes the Silicon Valley is not its successes, but the way in which it deals with failures. The Valley is about experimentation, innovation, and taking new risks. Only a small business that can deal with failure and still make money can exist in this environment. It is a model based on many, many failures and a few extraordinary successes.