Six-short cuts to innovation… or not…

I came across a recent article on the Six Short-Cuts to Innovation on the BNet UK site, an article written by Jo Owen. In the articlem the author proposes that one does not need fancy innovation tools, systems, but one can by-pass anything looking like hard work by following six simple rules:

1) Copy an idea

2) Solve a problem

3) Experiment

4) Get lucky

5) Act little, act often

6) Ask everyone

The conclusion is controversial, to say the least: “Successful innovation does not require genius, brainstorming workshops, taking risks or even technology. Listen to your customers and to your staff well and you may discover the next great innovation is on your doorstep.”

Here is my response, on their site and copied below:

Re” Six Short Cuts to Innovation

“Successful innovation does not require genius, brainstorming workshops, taking risks or even technology. Listen to your customers and to your staff well and you may discover the next great innovation is on your doorstep.”

This is a very broad statement to make based on a few scattered, and obviously successful examples. It also implies that the simple secrets exposed in this post are all you need. A few music industry mates and hey presto, an airline. Right.

There is a big difference between having an idea for a business, and developing the successful business itself. There is also a big difference between the creative ideation process, and the process of real innovation – turning ideas into value.

Being realistic, companies need to try all of the things suggested – and more. Innovation for many firms is the driver of growth and profit. Relying on simple methods creates way too much risk for medium to large sized corporations. Easy for a consultant to say… hard for a senior executive to stake their careers, and the employment of hundreds of people on.

Enterprise-scale innovation requires a lot more. For example, it is not enough to just ‘ask everyone’ – you need to have structured methods to do so, manage intellectual property, handle reward & recognition, and so on and so on (I just made a blog post myself on this topic, breaking down the myth about ‘we need simple systems’ –

It is good to focus people on innovation in these troubled times. It does not always help to trivialize it though.

Mark Turrell
CEO, Imaginatik plc

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