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Posted By: Bala & Debbie

I have been asked by many contacts, cohorts, and fellow innovation leaders to come back to writing articles on Innovation. It’s been an exciting journey of many years and we’ve been busy beavers working with clients and prospective clients and stepped away from writing for a while.
I’m (we are) flattered by the requests and penned a few new series. This first series is one of my favorites which is demystifying Innovation Management. There is no secret sauce. If you approach it in a very simple way – you will be able to master it. It can actually be simple as long as you stay keen on not complicating it. So, let’s dive in, shall we?

Two Camps… and Eventually One

I often meet two groups of leaders at my keynotes and business conferences focusing on Strategy, Innovation, HR, Digital Transformation, etc. The first group includes those who have just started their Innovation Championship Journey with lots of energy and excitement to solve world hunger. The other group is saying, ‘I have been there before, it does not work out the way you hope for’. Interestingly enough, the next time I meet the former group, most of them have also switched to the other camp of being weary.
Why so…. Why is instituting Innovation & Entrepreneurship and continuously nurturing them in enterprises & institutions a hit or miss? Why can’t we master this task like we have done in Human Resources, IT, Finance, Sales, Marketing, Support and other core corporate functions?

Harder Than it Needs to Be?

Deliberating and observing, I come to the terms with the fact that we are significantly overcomplicating our Innovation programs, rather than simplifying them to be yet another normal function. It’s like creating a new class to “teach” Innovation, rather than just placing it right in front of employees for natural assimilation so it flourishes organically. Think of trying to learn a language in school versus learning while living in a country that speaks that language.

First, Let’s Talk About the Challenges…

Let’s first do some reverse engineering. Why do Innovation programs fail? Based on our own research and with the help of Innovation pioneers we have listed the top 10 challenges below. Let us know if this resonates with you. Drop a comment, as well as your alternative thoughts.
Furthermore, recent research and surveys by PwC found:,

  • 54% of the executives surveyed struggle to align innovation strategy with business strategy
  • 61% of our survey respondents are embracing open innovation to generate new ideas
  • 72% of respondents say they’re not out-innovating their competitors

Clearly, there is an array of challenges blocking us from reaching True North on Innovation. Some companies have programs in place or a conscious strategy to address these challenges and to promote innovative thinking, but even they miss setting up clarity and providing support for their employees with what should happen before the innovation cycle starts, what happens during the cycle, and what should happen afterwards.

In this series, we will explore techniques and tools to make Innovation uncomplicated and reasonable to master, not to mention fun and exciting. We will share how to grow a culture of innovative thinking across all levels of your organization and not just among the innovation-centric suspects. We will discuss how to organically weave in innovative thinking across your internal corporate functions and with your business operations. Then, we will wrap up the series with how Innovation as a skillset can be coached, managed and measured.
Join us and share your thoughts along the way.