We have just been through almost five years of inactivity when it comes to innovation talks, sessions or consulting assignments. Yes, I am talking in past tense because I see plenty of signs that indicate that better times are ahead of us.
And yet, I already now have to issue a warning to executives, business leaders and managers responsible for innovation activities in their companies.
The warning is clear and simple: Don’t’ make your innovation efforts event-driven.
The reason for this warning is that I have received several requests during the summer asking for my appearance at or my help on designing 1 or 2 day programs on innovation. When I speak with these people about the purpose of the events, the replies are quite blurred. They don’t really know. They just want to make a statement that innovation is important.
Well, it is OK to make a statement that innovation is important, but such a statement should be part of a bigger plan. There has to be a reason for organizing a 1-day program and there has to be a follow-up plan for such an event.
If not, what is the point? You will end up have a group of employees who will not take your innovation efforts seriously. Hey, it is just an event and it is not really tied into our daily work. Who cares?
As I have written in my previous books, you only have one and a half chance to really change your corporate culture when it comes to innovation. If you fail the first time, then you will have to face lots of skeptical stakeholders (internally as well as externally) the next time you launch new innovation efforts.
The times we have right now kind of resembles the first try. Many companies almost need to start all over with their corporate innovation efforts. This is your first chance. Don’t waste it by making too many mistakes such as just doing things without having a plan in place. This will hurt you in the long run.