do companies actually want innovation?

No. Most don’t.

Oh for sure, they all say they do. Everyone wants to be part of the cool kids with the buzzy success stories on their resumes. But the reality is that innovation is a risk management process, and since most companies have very poor competence in managing the process of innovation, they can’t manage the risk of innovation. And you know what most people hate? Risk. Risk to their stature, their career, their paycheck.

Without a consistent, strong innovation management capability within an organization, innovation becomes a crapshoot. The typical “innovation process” usually winds up something like this:

A brave (or frankly…bored) soul will be standing in the shower one morning and randomly think up an exciting idea. Or a salesperson comes running in with some random request from a customer.  Since there is no structure in place to frame the idea in the context of a range of ideas, they don’t know any better and the idea becomes THE PRECIOUS in their mind. So they start pitching their idea as THE HOT THING to anyone who will listen.

But unfortunately, most organizations have no process in place to judge if the idea is the BEST idea or not for the organization by systematically DERISKING the concept. 

And since most people lack any formal education or training in basic design processes, they believe that “innovation” is some fluffy, mystical brainstorming thing with post-it notes, not a routine, manageable process. They don’t know how to produce better ideas, so random ideas get tossed onto product development roadmaps, but often times without real commitment or backing. Few genuine innovations ever even make it to launch and since they were never properly vetted, there is a high percentage of failures. Which makes people even more scared of supporting “risky” innovation projects.

The solution? Learn how to manage the process of innovation from the very early stage of idea generation to the messy process of vetting to the painful process of focus to the tedious process of launching. Innovation is not easy, but it certainly can be a manageable process that produces consistently favorable odds of success.

Can I help your team manage innovation projects? Let me know!

Want to read more? Check out my post “What’s The Value of Innovation Management?