Ideas Are Only Beginnings
Companies think far too little about the other side of innovation, and we are not the first to say so. In 2007, IBM ran an advertisement intended to convey that it could help its clients innovate. It featured a pudgy mock superhero sporting a capital “I” on his outfit who introduced himself as “Innovation Man.” A bemused colleague asked, “And your job is?” The superhero responded with gusto, “I for invigoration! I for incubation!” The onlooker replied, “What about I for Implementation?” Innovation Man answered, “I knew I forgot something.”
We loved the ad. It captured so humorously and yet so perfectly the off-balance approach to innovation that is commonplace in corporations around the world. There is too much emphasis on ideas, not nearly enough emphasis on execution. Thomas Edison made essentially the same observation more than a century ago: “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
Several companies have shared with us their maps of the innovation process. These maps are revealing. One typical diagram showed innovation as a four-stage process: generating ideas, refining ideas, selecting ideas, and, finally, like a lazy afterthought, implementation.
No wonder, then, that so many innovation initiatives hit a wall. The guiding managerial model for innovation is just too simple. It reduces to:
innovation = ideas
As a result, most corporations have more ideas than they can possibly move forward. Far too many promising ideas on paper never become anything more than…promising ideas on paper.
Here is an improved equation for innovation:
innovation = ideas + execution
Take just a moment to rate your company on a scale of one to ten, first for its ability to generate innovative ideas, then for its ability to execute them. Repeatedly, when we do this exercise with executives, they rate their companies relatively high for ideas – say, seven or eight—but quite low for execution—typically, one or two.
Where is there greater room for improvement? Yet most companies, in their efforts to improve innovation, focus entirely on the Big Idea Hunt. Focusing on ideas may unleash more immediate energy, but focusing on execution is far more powerful. And innovation execution is what this book is all about.
Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble, Introduction to: The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge
Download the Executing Innovation Brochure to learn more about how ITLN can empower your innovation initiatives.
To learn more about the proven ways to successfully make innovation happen in your organization, read more about Leading Innovation™, based on the breakthrough ideas of Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble. Also, download a PDF overview of this exciting workshop opportunity.