I bet you could name a dozen companies that claim to have a focus on innovation. They make broad claims like: "Innovation is important to our business. We need it to beat our competitors. We need it to get new customers. We need it to support our brand."
However it's an illusion. Because in the next breath, out come the "buts"...
Who really thinks that this model can be successful? Anyone? It's obvious to most that this lacks credibility and reeks of marketing spiel not backed by substance. Activities remain "normal" while using the word "Innovation" to convey significant change.
I can hear the cynics - well, if you are truly innovative the "buts" don't matter! Yeah, sure. Just follow the yellow brick road and everything will work out. Without a strategy and investment to support the innovation claims, it's just hype.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article called ``You Call That Innovation? Companies Love to Say They Innovate, but the Term Has Begun to Lose Meaning`` One of my favorite quotes in it is from Clayton Christensen who says "It is far easier for companies to just say they're innovating. Everybody's innovating, because any change is innovation."
Why is there so much fear of investing in true innovation? Perhaps this is understandable for a market leader that feels they have too much to lose (this contentious point of view could be a whole other blog topic). But for the multitude of companies that are NOT market leaders, this is somewhat incomprehensible. Do they believe that the status quo will bring them to the promised land of market leadership? To them I ask, "how's that been working for you"?
Innovation needs to be backed up by actions and investment. Truly innovative companies invest in long term innovation - not just R&D, but the relationships and processes that enable innovation. The iPod and iPad didn't just "happen" - Apple invested significant time and resources to MAKE them happen. Ditto the offerings from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tesla Motors, Amazon, Salesforce.com or P&G.
It's this pursuit of true innovation that has led Psion to restructure it's entire business. Consider that we invite external parties into the innovation process with enterprise class open technology platforms that supports incremental developments - a true example of open innovation. My term for this is "Enterprise Class Open Source Hardware" because we apply the Open Source Culture to a hardware platform that retains its enterprise class attributes. Make no mistake - it takes significant investment to make this business change that breaks our traditional processes, takes us into new areas and has an element of risk.
BUT, I believe that this type of open business model will spark the collective ingenuity required to deliver disruptive innovations to the market. Check out IngenuityLive! to see some of the innovative products developed to date. There's even more brewing behind the scenes that I will share soon.
Stay tuned ...
What a phenomenal blog. I'm assuming that you won't mind if I take a few snippets here and there and get them out to my partnerbase? I'll make sure that they are directed back to your full blog...
Thanks Mark! Feel free to use content for your partnerbase as you see fit.
Indeed, great post, Todd!
Top notch Todd!