A few months ago I opined on the difference between Innovation and Innovation Cultures here, on this blog. It was a riff inspired by a post by Pat Lencioni on Bloomberg/Businessweek that largely dismissed Innovation programs, saying":
As heretical as that may seem to those who want to believe that “innovation is everyone’s business,” consider that even the most innovative and creative organizations need far more people to be dutiful, enthusiastic, and consistent in their work than innovative or creative.”
Whilst the general theme of bringing a huge dose of practical appeals to my thinking on management and next generation enterprises, the article takes an almost lazy swipe at all things innovation that led me to distinguish between everyone becoming full time innovators vs. fostering innovative cultures.
But it’s important to note that this line of thinking offered in BusinessWeek joins a host of voices that are questioning the basic value of innovation programs from a cost/benefit and quality perspective. I’ve seen this first hand with leadership teams we engage with: Where executives hobnobbing on golf courses originally heard about ideation programs and isolated success stories of how others found diamonds in the rough, they are also now hearing about how many of these efforts created a cesspool of ideas that have little to do with operating and financial metrics that shareholders care about. And often, ideologists of all things “open” have fueled the fire with statements such as “there’s no such thing as a bad idea.”. The reality is that orgs continue to have a limited appetite to experiment in these recessionary times and so the pundits have a field day with pushing pessimistic and myopic strands of innovation management.
Next week I’m going to be part of the keynote line up at the Defrag Conference and will expand on this topic. There are a few important considerations for both practitioners looking to infuse innovative thinking into their organizations as well as for vendors that are pushing innovation platforms or features as part of the enterprise social software bag of tricks. Like every other area of performance acceleration via social and collaborative constructs, Innovation needs to step up, pronto. And I hope to spark a discussion on making a case for a more practical justification for infusing innovative instincts into the enterprise fabric.
This year, Defrag offers a slightly altered agenda – showcasing start up driven disruption as it has always done but
also providing a cold shower balancing that with leading large enterprise thinking from the bunch of smarty pants that call themselves the Enterprise Irregulars. Many of these folks are people I consider friends or I highly respect. And I know they will kill it. In addition, look for some really smart keynotes from the likes of my former colleague, Alex Wright, Maggie Fox, Jeff Dachis, Dion Hinchcliffe, Professor Vivek Wadhwa and others.
At almost any other conference, it would be sacrilege to have so many vendors on stage. But Defrag is different. Since the topic is about disrupting the status quo of today with what can look like abstract ideas that will only gestate in the near future, it’s almost impossible to have a discussion about future trends in the absence of raw passion that only entrepreneurs can exhibit. And Defrag provides the venue for this.
When you look at the agenda at Defrag (20% discount code “spkrmagic1” here) from a birds eye view, you see a pack of hyenas (READ: a bunch of startups) hard at work, poking and prodding the Googles, Amazons, Microsofts, and Facebooks of today with radically new approaches that could disrupt service provisioning as we know it today. This is how I recently described Defrag to a customer.
Apps, Marketplaces and Platforms, Analytics, Crowds and Innovation, Big Data and Collaboration
So even if Innovation is not your bag, you will learn other stuff that makes you more smarter about where the proverbial puck will be. And hopefully get you thinking about how you can capitalize on these new opportunities.
See you in Colorado.