Sunday, June 14, 2009

Innovation: Harder than expected

Michael Mandel in his last BW article was dealing with the failed promise of Innovation in the US. This certainly resonates with our childhood full of images of flying cars, human colonies in the Moon and Mars, almost unlimited supply of energy, etc...
In the last five years, I had the opportunity to participate in many innovation processes in Europe and witness sometimes the birth, sometimes the renewal and sometimes the fall of many organizations devoted to Innovation.
Innovation had become a buzzword, used way too many times for political reason and covering what is just a medium, sometimes bad, executed diffusion or educational process. To be completely honest with you all, very few times I have seen a well planned, well executed process trying to connect at least some of the relevant actors: research organizations, companies, users, ... Many times I have encountered either a partial link without the technology or the sophisticated demand or the companies to make it work or even worse, a buzzword in the hands of politicians wanting to promote themselves.
I am not saying that in Asia things are better, they have their own share of problems being the rigidity of their structures and hierarchies if not the most relevant, probably the best well known. However, I have seen more serious attempts of really trying.
The words of the article of Michael Mandel are nevertheless a good explanation of what happened: Harder than expected.
Obviously, not because you put people of different disciplines together something magical happens or because you connect people you are going to create a new product or just because you involve the first user that you encounter she or he is going to have the clue for the next iPod. Yes, as you may guess, these things just don't happen.
At a point and after the initial euphoria, everybody realizes that. This is, among others, the reason why so many innovation projects don't last more than 3-5 years ...
Harder than expected !!! - Yes Michael, you're right.
The problem and the opportunity lies on what this initiatives do next ...



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