Symptoms of Poor Innovation Strategy11 August, 2014 / Articles
Historically, innovation has been perceived as a complex, time-consuming endeavor, or based on the genius of particular individuals. Research organizations may have been disconnected from the business objectives of the company. Engineers, many with PhDs, have deep knowledge of the technology but don’t necessarily have the business-sense to make money with their creative ideas. Everyone can remember at least one highly visible project with a significant investment that failed, resulting in no revenues and no return.
It’s commonly accepted that innovation is necessary to sustain a company, especially to achieve growth beyond the initial market and product portfolio. “Innovate or Die” is the mantra that companies believe to be true because it plays out over and over in front of us. Google, IBM, Apple, Siemens and many others have provided the guidance that innovation is a culture and failure should be rewarded. Failing fast on many small projects is touted as the “right way” to innovate.
The problem is a large majority of companies don’t have the margins to make big bets hoping for a payoff or give everyone 10% of their time to work on new projects. Most companies are resource constrained, consensus driven and worried about fulfilling commitments to investors. We have all seen once successful organizations reach their useful limits, die or be acquired. Some were big names that had the money and time to invest, but didn’t get to the next level of growth. Blockbuster, Kmart, Borders Books, Nokia and others had decreasing revenues, shrinking margins and unhappy investors.
If a company isn’t innovating then it’s dying. Typically, companies have a prolonged downward trend, it’s not as quick as it sometimes seems to the outsider. There must be early indicators that innovation will not sufficiently sustain your company as you look to the future. If you are in agreement, so far, then what are the symptoms of a poor innovation strategy?