The video was beautiful. Obviously professionally produced, it highlighted the space the company had set up for innovation. Drone footage showed an open space replete with sticky notes. A 3D printer whirred in the background. A foosball table was involved. Clearly, money was being spent.
But further investigation showed that the video was nothing more than a beautiful piece of “innoganda” — innovation propaganda describing an effort that had little hope of driving any material impact.
In many organization, innovation has gone from fringe to buzzword to a must-have. There are a variety of legitimate reasons for companies to bolster their innovation capabilities, ranging from fighting against current and emerging competitors to raising morale and attracting younger employees.
There are companies that pursue innovation with rigor. Some are well-publicized innovation poster children like Alphabet (Google), Amazon.com, Disney Pixar, 3M, and Philips. Some are still under the radar screen, like Globe Telecom in the Philippines, Tata Sons in India, or DSM in the Netherlands.
These rigorous innovators direct innovation strategically, with innovation efforts integrated into strategic planning and resource allocation systems. They pursue innovation rigorously, with a disciplined process and supporting tools to help spot, shape, and seize opportunities to innovate. They resource innovation intensively, dedicating top talent to pursuing ideas rather than hoping that miracles will happen in free-thinking Fridays, special-purpose Sundays, or other constrained efforts. They monitor innovation methodically, making sure that the most-promising ideas are identified and accelerated, and the least-promising ideas are shut down before they turn into capacity-draining zombies. Finally, they nurture it carefully, recognizing that organizations are wired to operate today’s business more efficiently, not to experiment and discover tomorrow’s business.
Companies running innoganda campaigns, on the other hand, approach the problem in a piecemeal fashion. Maybe they hire a chief innovation officer but don’t give him or her any budget or staff. Perhaps, like the company in the video, they build a gleaming innovation lab that sits empty except for when the media, customers, or tax-break-providing government officials are around.
How to Tell If a Company Is Good at Innovating or Just Good at PR