TIP: Lacking business relevance – or why there are no sheep in the Artic

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We have already explained that innovation is everybody’s work. The problem is that it is also nobody’s work. In an ideal world, innovation would be each manager’s and each business unit’s responsibility. That’s not the reality we live in.

Often a corporation launches an innovation initiative and hopes that it spreads and positively impacts the organization over time. This process of spreading innovation throughout the organization is, however, tricky.

Initially you should expect some resistance from business units. They might say, “Who are these innovation people to be playing on my turf? I can solve my own problems, I don’t need help from outsiders.”

Find first class challenges
This resistance can push innovation initiatives to address only second class challenges. They may be too broad in scope – e.g., “How do we cut costs?” or “How do we save energy?” – or suffer from a lack of ownership – e.g., “How can we make the company more sustainable?” – or be so farfetched that they have little or no business relevance– e.g., “How come there are no sheep in the Artic?”

The problems with these types of challenges are twofold. First, employees can smell a lack of sincerity and know when they are simply being “entertained.” Second, the same top executives that validated the program will kill it for a lack of relevance and value.

Experience tells us, when the innovation outcome seems irrelevant, so too seems the entire innovation initiative.

Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder
pcc@exago.com

FROM THE START: Innovation looks easy – it’s not

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