What most companies are missing today is an “innovation engine” – a high performance organisational system that can continually pick up promising ideas and transform them into powerful new ways to create value and wealth. Rowan Gibson shows us what is needed for taking innovative ideas from mind to market.
by Rowan Gibson
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rowan Gibson is a global business strategist, a bestselling author and an expert on radical innovation (http://www.rowangibson.com/). He is also one of the world’s most in-demand business speakers. Rowan’s books have been translated into over 20 languages. His new book Innovation to the Core (co-authored with Peter Skarzynski), was published in March 2008 by Harvard Business School Press. He may be contacted at email@example.com
One of the most prevalent and dangerous misconceptions in innovation is that it is all about coming up with ideas. So, when companies catch the innovation bug, their tendency is to run off and immediately launch fun initiatives like online suggestion boxes, creative competitions, open innovation programmes and offsite brainstorming sessions. Of course, in themselves, these initiatives are not wrong. In fact, they can be an essential part of the process. However, ideas are just the front end of innovation. Without the back end of innovation – the capacity to effectively screen ideas, align them with strategy, allocate resources to them and manage them successfully toward commercialisation – all of those light bulbs and eureka moments will never add up to much.
When you ask most people to describe their company’s “corporate innovation system”, all you usually get is a blank stare. Sure, they may tell you they have recently been involved in some sort of idea submission scheme, but if you ask them what their company actually does with all the ideas – how many of them have so far been turned into experiments, how many are receiving more serious funding and attention, how many ventures are heading for commercialisation, and how much money those ventures are expected to generate – people’s answers tend to become a lot more vague. The sad truth is that most organisations have not yet developed a clear model, reflected in management practice, of what the back end of innovation actually looks like.