From working with hundreds of corporate staff, and keeping up to date with what’s happening in the world of innovation through reading books, reports and articles, I believe that there are five damaging notions (or myths) which are getting in the way of organisations innovating effectively. These myths are a growing concern.
The damaging myths are:
Many companies believe the myth that using innovation management software makes them innovative. Admittedly, the marketing materials from some of the software development companies are convincing.
However, not all of the companies who are using innovation management software have been overwhelmed by the results. The simple fact is that no single innovation tool will deliver consistent, profitable growth. A software package alone cannot guarantee favourable results. Nor can it make your staff more creative and innovative. The software is simply a tool which delivers value only when used as part of a structured innovation programme. Use it wisely, or you could end up doing more harm than good.
Myth #2: Agile methodologies should be applied to innovation processes across the entire business portfolio
I’ve seen far too many job adverts for innovation managers that list Agile as a required skill. Don’t get me wrong, Agile is an important methodology, but it should never be applied across the whole innovation portfolio. Let me explain why. It’s clear that businesses need to manage a portfolio of innovations across the near, medium and long term. Near and medium term innovation can be straightforward enough. However, identifying (and managing) a portfolio of long-term business opportunities requires a different set of skills, processes, methodologies and tools, and is not well suited to Agile. Therefore, think twice before you deploy Agile methods across your entire innovation programme.
Myth # 3: Staff who perform well in core business functions are the right people to lead game-changing innovation programmes
Promoting employees that have a track record in delivering value for the core business to leading a game-changing innovation programme, may be a big mistake. I've learned that hiring the right innovation manager is essential. It takes time and specific skills to define future business growth opportunities and to develop game-changing innovations. These could be in markets that are new to your company, for example, or that fall outside of the core business.
I’ve yet to see a major revenue growth project that didn’t rely on the personal vision of the project manager, so pick the right people to lead projects of this type. I cover this topic in more detail in my ebook ‘Innovation Unplugged’.
Myth #4: Hosting an annual innovation awards event is a great way to stimulate innovation
Some businesses believe that by hosting a glittering black-tie event, they are recognising and nurturing innovation. But events like these might do more harm than good.
Don’t get me wrong, celebrating success is important. We know that delivering innovation projects is hard work, and staff need to be recognised on a regular basis – not once a year. For example, managers can show genuine interest in a team’s work, congratulate them when they hit a milestone, and provide support when they need help. Having worked in the field of innovation for 25 years, I can tell you that regular management support can mean a lot more to an innovation team than attending an annual black-tie event.
Also, I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to see a ‘failed’ innovation project being acknowledged at an annual awards event, even though projects of this nature provide valuable learning to an organisation, and can safeguard against unnecessary investments. It’s a fact of life that not all innovation projects succeed (many fail), and unless the so-called ‘failed’ projects are acknowledged, the message to staff is that risk taking should be avoided.
Myth # 5
For Myth #5 I’m torn between the following candidates:
- All staff should be innovative
- Big corporations should innovate like start-ups
- Hackathons create a long lasting impact
What are your thoughts? What myths are getting in the way of organisations innovating effectively?
If you want to be more successful at innovation, I recommend our ebook Innovation Unplugged
Other articles that may be of interest include:
- Innovate smarter by collaborating across silos
- How to generate great business ideas at your company meeting
And if you have a question about innovation, contact us at email@example.com
Director of 3inno