Why is Everyone Innovating but Me?
14 March 2019
Companies need to innovate: close to 90% of executives around the world believe this statement, but the majority of them think that the solutions they are presented with lack ambition.
“Why is everyone innovating but me?” is a question asked by plenty of entrepreneurs, more often than not, by those at the reins of medium-sized and large corporations. They often leave their innovation projects to be handled internally and don’t get results. How can this be explained?
In my opinion, there are many reasons why innovation comes to nothing:
1. Not planning ahead
Innovation isn’t included in the company’s strategic plans, because it hasn’t been needed before. Consequently, there’s no room in the budget for innovation.
3. Lacking empathy
Ego wins out over the greater good. In all thinking and ideation processes, you have to put your ego to one side and make space for the greater good and, thereby, ensure the project’s success. You have to think about the end user, not about keeping up appearances.
2. Not knowing how to go about it
The thinking process is done in an “insular” and seamless way between team members. There is either a complete lack of methodology or the methodology is sloppy. And the clash of different aptitudes and talents is rarely even considered.
4. Lacking relevance
This is the number one reason why an innovative solution doesn’t see the light of day, because it simply does not create value. Think about number pad car locking systems (that freeze in the winter and are less useful than self-unlocking mechanisms), the famous Segway (electric, one-person transportation devices that don’t really address a particular need at the price they are sold), and several other examples.
5. Underestimating preparation time
Preparation time is essential for analyzing what turns a target group or user on (and off). Properly preparing also helps to prevent you from falling into the trap of false good innovative ideas that are not backed by relevant, quantitative data.
6. Under-evaluating a company’s value chain and resources
The different departments within a company aren’t always adapted to work in an innovate way. The operations, production and financial departments don’t always have the freedom to request changes to the way things are done internally. These habits, which sometimes leave us automatically saying, “I’ve always done it like that,” stop innovation dead in its tracks.
7. Seeing innovation as an expense or a cost-reduction exercise
Innovation should be seen as an investment that will create future value, yet companies tend to limit themselves to a short-term vision (I like to call this corporate short-sightedness), which is harmful to innovation.
8. Thinking that innovation has to be technological
Of course, it can be, but it doesn’t always have to be. Chalk Soap, which won at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2018, is a great example of a non-technological innovation. The best innovations are often very simple and very relevant, as the Indian brand Savlon well knows.
Growth as a global economic reference is compromised by several factors, such as reduced productivity, workforce shortages, and social inequality. That’s why I believe that innovation shouldn’t be thought about simply in terms of producing and selling more. These days, innovation should also improve experiences. By improving experiences, innovation becomes more valuable for both companies and their customers, and sometimes, for the general public, too. Our project, The You Inside, for Gender Creative Kids Canada is an excellent example: inventing all the parts of an educational tool to put a stop to transphobia, before it can begin.
Also, if we want innovation to be even more relevant in the 21st century, we have to go about it in an environmentally friendly way, without using new raw materials and without polluting as we produce, consume and dispose of waste. We have to stop killing, taking, making and wasting, because only 6% of purchased and consumed materials are recycled into new products. Companies don’t have a choice nowadays, they have to be authentically responsible, to the extent that they even join forces with competitors relaying the same message. Just look at McDonald’s and Starbucks, who are teaming up to rethink recyclable and compostable coffee cups.
Innovation is increasingly essential for executives and entrepreneurs so that they can enrich human experience, but also to ensure the relevance and continued success of their companies.
So, do you have what it takes to innovate?