The Main Impediment to Innovation

What is impeding innovation in your business today? I asked this question at a Master Class on Innovation I ran recently for senior executives leaders in large organizations. The answers included many corporate culture issues such as: – We are risk averse. – There is a fear of failure. – There is a fear of the unknown. – People like to stick to the ways they have always done... Read More--

Shell Gamechanger – A Supertanker of Innovation

The Shell Gamechanger initiative was launched in 1996.  Its mission was to deliver innovative options that have the potential to drastically impact the energy future.  In 1999, Gary Hamel commented, ‘The Gamechanger programme is still fragile. The 1998 slump in oil prices threw Shell into a frenzy of cost cutting. Whether Gamechanger will survive in its current form remains to be seen. But it... Read More--

The Leader of Innovation Paints a Vision of a Better Future

Anne Mulcahy When Anne Mulcahy was appointed CEO of Xerox Corp. in 2001, many people were surprised, including Mulcahy herself. She had never run a company before and had little financial experience, having worked mainly in Sales and Human Resources functions. Xerox faced huge financial problems and the stock price fell 15% on news of her appointment. The financial market had little confidence in her... Read More--

Innovation is not a Game for Juniors

I am often asked to give corporate innovation training workshops. I always request that the senior executives attend but sometimes when I arrive I find a class full of keen young troops and a sprinkling of middle managers. The youngsters are eager, intelligent and motivated. They readily absorb the ideas and the methods. In the interactive modules they generate and select great ideas for the company.... Read More--

So What Exactly Should Kodak Have Done?

Business commentators and writers commonly quote Kodak as an example of a company that was destroyed by disruptive innovation.  The usual message is that the big company was just too slow and complacent to react to the obvious tsunami that digital photography represented for the film industry.  The facts are dramatic.  The company was founded by George Eastman in 1888.  It rose to a totally dominant... Read More--

Avoid the Iridium Moment

Every company has to make important strategic decisions. We can see with hindsight that some decisions which looked smart at the time turned out to be dumb. Often it was because the wrong assumptions were made. In his excellent book, Exponential Organizations, Salim Ismail coins the phrase an Iridium Moment. He explains how in the late 1980s the telecoms giant Motorola made a huge bet which turned... Read More--

Can Africa’s Entrepreneurs and Innovators solve Africa’s Problems?

What can save Africa from its many problems; grinding poverty, corrupt bureaucrats, incompetent governments and dire infrastructure?  The best hope might lie with the innovations of its home grown entrepreneurs.  Many solutions that work in the developed world do not translate well to Africa so indigenous innovations are often a better answer.  In some cases they leap-frog current Western offerings. Mobile... Read More--

The Benefits of Reverse Mentoring

A Dutch nursing home lets university students live rent-free alongside the elderly residents, as part of a project aimed at warding off the negative effects of aging.  In exchange for small, rent-free apartments, the Humanitas retirement home in Deventer, Netherlands, requires students to spend at least 30 hours per month acting as “good neighbors.”  It is an excellent example  inter-generational... Read More--

Line of Sight Innovation

I sometimes encounter organizations which want to want to become more innovative but whose corporate culture is inimical to agility and innovation.  Such organizations typically display these characteristics: – They have set procedures which are difficult to change. – All decisions are made by committees which meet regularly and require discussion, review and consensus so progress is slow. –... Read More--

How to Broadcast and Reward Innovation Success

When you have a successful innovation be sure to broadcast the fact. Track the source of the original idea that led to the innovation.  It may have come from a brainstorm, a suggestion scheme item, an idea event or some other source and the originator may have been an individual or a team. In any event, if the contributor is agreeable, make a big fuss. Draw up a story about the innovation and place... Read More--