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Lance Wulfers

My question is has innovation died?  For large businesses that do not have a vibrant, and fearless leadership (see Apple under Steve jobs), I think is has.  If you look at the organizational charts for many of the large corporate megaliths you will see a plethora of middle managers who are so risk averse that innovation (any change involves risk) is choked off since there are no innovation champions in the middle layers.  And innovation driven top down can only happen when you have a visionary in the top ranks, and that is also very rare.


So where is actual innovation happening, at the bottom layer, the people who live in the trenches…   The people who live for a challenge.

So how can big business leverage this innovation layer?  Remove the middle management layer.   Provide an innovation champion who has an R&D budget and is tasked with working with the bottom layer of a company, the engineers, developers  and business analysts that live on the edge (Where the corporate tires meet the road).


Here are two innovation failures I will tell you about, and both have been impacted by a company so risk averse it is starting to fail in its primary business ventures:

This company initiated an innovation process several years ago.  The process was driven companywide with team managers being the central points of collection of innovative ideas.  These managers were given no budget to do anything with these ideas.  There was no process or incentive for these managers to drive it about their team.  This lasted close to a year and the innovation program slowly slipped into oblivion….

A second example:  This same company failed an attempt to market a consumer product in a line where there was already a major market leader.  This product was under development for several years and needed to provide some major device differentiation form the current market leader.  This same company had a large Lead Technologist community made up of real innovators in all areas of technology.  Did this same company leverage the skills and experience of this internal community,   NO!!!

So to wrap this up, if large companies really want to survive, then they need to start acting like a small company.  Support those innovators and risk takers!  Reward them by implementing their innovative ideas.  Champion (from the top down) innovation (found at the bottom) in your companies.  Remember if you stand still you are really falling behind.

Do it now!  Take a risk!

Posted on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 1:54 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Is Innovation Dead?

# re: Is Innovation Dead?
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I think your not really hitting the point of the question at it's heart, although you do make a vlaid point! As an innovator, i worked forw an equally evisioning giant through the late 90's to mid-2000's (stock ticker msft) and 8 can tell you most folks outside of the innovation leaders have no clue what innovation is. It, in my opinion, is a large part of the (leta do what everyone else is doing that appears successful) generation of managers and CIS majors that just don't get it. Innovation comes about not by following what others already have done...that tract is status quo and does not move your company forward..it merely replicates someone elses problems. Innovation is not believing everything you read..not cow toeing to self important consultants who have no stake in a project once they elave it, and certainly not pre-sales engineers whoa re billed as subject matter experts whos primary income is based off typically vertical technology in a specific product or program regimen. innovateion is the continued trial and error of not o ly pushing limits, but combining your own ideas along with seemingly good ones from others to get your objectives met.

I know it sounds wordy, but im an architect an engineer..lol..so pelase forgive my rhetoric or lack of organization in my text.

To be an innovator..it involves risk...the good innovators always mitigate their risks and have solid rollback plans ... But as is anything in life, if you do not try it, it will never succeeed no matter what the idea.
Left by Andy Weinberg on Jul 08, 2012 4:10 AM

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