I have just got off the phone with the most blinkered VP of Innovation imaginable. This man is responsible for innovation in a manufacturing firm employing thousands of people, and his new revenue target is well in excess of $25m. And yet, he was entirely uninterested in anything to do with innovation. “I am the only person responsible for innovation and growth in the company. I have no interest in conferences, what other companies are doing, what you can do for us”. Needless to say, it was a short phone call.
I have some experience in these matters. The most likely reason for his attitude is that his firm is going through a reorganization, and his relative lack of visible success over the past year (his reputation preceded my call) would indicate that he will draw a short straw. But it is also likely that he honestly believes that he is the master of all he sees, that he alone has the right vision for innovation in his firm, and that his superior intellect will carry his initiative forward to success.
The odds of any one corporate innovator knowing everything is zero. The odds of even just one of us knowing most of today’s good stuff is pretty low (hey, I’m trying), and these odds go down dramatically if we think ahead to the next three years of innovation process discoveries. We simply cannot afford to innovate with our eyes closed to the outside world. There are too many good new things going on, and the books will take years to catch up.
So, with this thought in mind, I urge you to innovate Eyes Wide Open and to take every opportunity you can to learn from others inside and outside your company, and better yet, outside your industry and geographic region. An easy place to start is going to conferences and workshops and spending quality time networking (quick recommendations for now would be InnovateEurope in London and PMDA 2005 in San Diego). After that there are emerging innovation networking groups that you can join (mail me if you are interested). The world is big, and all kinds of good things await!