The innovation trap - have you fallen in?

I'm going to start by shocking you with a few things I have learned over my career:

  • Futures work is hard

  • Creating strategy is hard, especially when you haven't defined what your market will look like in the future. As a colleague of mine frequently said, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there". He also muttered things about "following a five dollar note out of the window" and "death and taxes", but we forgave him.

  • Real innovation in your products and services is hard..... I think you get the drift! 

  • Even assuming that you have navigated the paths above, operationalising the strategic plans and product/service innovation and tactics can be the hardest of all.

Ok, so I haven't shocked you have I? I bet you have seen the same patterns I have. The world is a changing place, sometimes it can move very quickly, sometimes so slowly that you don't notice it until it's too late. Organisations can find it very hard to catch up, never mind lead in their space.

I am a firm believer that unless an organisation is able to make futures, innovation, strategy and operationalisation of the outputs someone's responsibility, then it is very difficult to succeed. I have seen too many strategy plans, that took a lot of creativity and resource to create, put on a file drive marked Strategy, and only looked at a year later just prior to a board meeting. 


So that's the answer, right? Just find the right team member and make it their job, right? Easy. Wait....what....we have a budget for staff......we have work to do to hit today's deliverables......oh....ok....back to the drawing board.


Many organisations I have worked with have been in the same position. They have not been able to find resource to really push change and innovation forward. It becomes part of someone's role, and, unfortunately, a lower priority than hitting this week's, month's, year's priorities. Many times the project management meetings become so awkward it is quietly agreed to terminate them.


I have been lucky in my career that I have spent a majority of it in environments that have understood the paradigm I have described above. I have been allowed to run futures, innovation and strategies as a full time job, with the backing of the organisation to focus on, and deliver on the vision. I have also worked extensively with clients to achieve the same, primarily in the education space, but also in telecommunications, ecommerce, technology and digital.


Has your organisation fallen into the innovation trap?