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Date: 2024-05-27 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00011448

The Role of Innovation

Saul Kaplan ... So Many Corporate Innovation Labs, So Little Innovation


Peter Burgess

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So Many Corporate Innovation Labs, So Little Innovation

It’s the innovator’s day. CEOs everywhere know that keeping their companies relevant in a rapidly changing world is imperative and that innovation is the solution. Corporate leaders also know their legacies depend on their organization’s ability to reinvent itself.

It’s not going well.

The CEOs I talk with admit privately that they’re getting tired of hearing Uber, Airbnb and Netflix disruption stories. They want their organizations to play more offense. They want to be market-makers, not just share-takers.

In response, CEOs have climbed onto the innovation-lab bandwagon. Corporate innovation labs have sprung up like weeds across industries around the world. Any self-respecting CEO now has a corporate innovation lab!

I have visited many of these innovation labs and spoken with those who’ve been tapped on the shoulder to start and lead them. My overall impression is that, at best, most of these innovation labs will produce only tweaks to today’s business models.

Innovation labs will launch with lofty rhetoric from CEOs about transformation and thinking out-of-the-box. But as soon as line executives and business unit leaders get control of the lab’s agenda, it is destined to produce only tweaks. This shouldn’t be a surprise, because corporate innovation labs are structured, resourced and governed to produce incremental improvements to today’s business models.

Lab projects are prioritized and funded to produce new products, services and tech-enabled capabilities that will improve performance of today’s business. The projects compete for resources based on financial metrics relevant to the current business model.

There is nothing wrong with that approach—leaders should always improve their current business model to stay competitive. But here’s the rub—today’s corporate innovation labs won’t help a company avoid being ‘netflixed’ or disrupted by an entirely different business model.

My conclusion: Corporate innovation labs aren’t set up in ways that will help companies avoid disruption. Here’s why.

10 Reasons Corporate Innovation Labs Produce Only Tweaks

  • Innovation lab mandates aren’t clear. Incremental versus transformational innovation require very different organizational approaches and support.

  • CEOs must own the transformational agenda. Instead they cede authority to line executives who are accountable for the performance of today’s business model.

  • Innovation labs overemphasize the production of a better mousetrap, as opposed to a better business model.

  • Potential innovation projects that may cannibalize current business are taken off the table, severely limiting the innovation lab’s scope.

  • Requiring a financial forecast for an innovation project—before exploring it in the real world—only works for tweaks, never for transformation.

  • Corporate innovation labs see emerging technologies through the lens of today’s business model, as opposed to a catalyst for an entirely new model.

  • Corporate innovation labs have difficulty shifting their perspective to see opportunities through the lens of customer experience and jobs-to-be-done.

  • Corporate venture funds are not innovation labs. They may provide startup capital to entrepreneurs, but withhold the company’s most important assets: scalable capabilities and market access.

  • Innovation labs aren’t organized as a connected adjacency to the core, a sandbox where capabilities can be combined and recombined, to change how customer value is created, delivered and captured.

  • Companies lack the talent systems to develop future leaders with experience working both in the core and in the innovation lab.

I think we all know that tweaks are necessary—we should all get better every day. But tweaks aren’t sufficient. If tweaking the way things worked today were enough, life would be so much easier. Sometimes we need transformation, and this is one of those times. In the 21st century, the most important life skill—and corporate capability—is reinvention,.

Transformation, disruption and reinvention don’t have to be scare words. We can create the conditions to explore and test entire new business models while we are still pedaling the bicycle of today’s models.

An important mandate for these new innovation labs is to do R&D for new business models, the same way we do R&D today for new products, services and technologies. R&D for new business models is the new strategic imperative. Corporate innovation strategies must create discrete approaches to deliver incremental improvements to today’s models, while also enabling the exploration of entire new models. Doing so It will require more clarity on the objectives of the innovation lab, as well as and recognition that the same structure, approach, resourcing, staffing and governance will not work for both incremental and transformational innovation.

It’s a good thing CEOs are taking innovation seriously. I sense they’re realizing that just setting up an innovation lab and delegating it to line executives isn’t enough, and they’re right. I’m finding more CEOs open to talking about how business model innovation fits into their strategic agendas, and I predict we will begin to see this new imperative better reflected in their organizational approaches to innovation.

Today I stand by my observation: So many corporate innovation labs, so little innovation. Tomorrow I expect we will see more corporate business model sandboxes to make R&D for new business models an ongoing strategic capability.


Leave your thoughts here…

3mo Michael Docherty Author (Collective Disruption), Growth & Innovation Consultant, Entrepreneur and Connector Saul, great post and very timely as every company seems to be experimenting in one way or another around this topic. From my own corporate experiences and research I did for my book Collective Disruption, there's another reason these companies are failing at corporate innovation labs, which you allude to in a few of your points. It's about finding the elusive right balance… See more LikeReply18 3mo

Steve Faktor CEO of IdeaFaktory innovation incubator, author of Econovation, Forbes & HBR writer; ex-Fortune 100… Saul, I would agree. I'd add a couple of points. Having headed innovation groups in large companies and having worked with startups, there are a number of underlying reasons these companies (or groups) don't innovate. By far the most controversial is: they don't have to. Put another way, they have time to adapt - and they take it. Except for a handful of examples, many incumbents are not being disrupted. In fact, most startups are bought by them. All those disruptors are working for The Man. A second big reason is the math simply isn't there to incubate anything of substance in a big corporation. I wrote in more detail about both points here: LikeReply111

3mo Peter Gruich Studio Design Engineer, Sales Engineer, Technical Consultant Good points Steve. Right to the point. They are basically lazy and just wait for some chump to come along and solve the problem for them. Meanwhile they are figuring a way to get rid of the chump as soon as he is finished. 'Management' plays politics and kisses ass. Innovators have bigger fish to fry, after all, anyone can play politics and kiss ass, that's stuff is easy.. LikeReply1

3mo Lilia Knauer CEO & Org. Innovation Facilitator Saul, good article - some additional comments, if a company really is setting up an innovation lab with the objective to avoid disruption - they have failed already. There will be no company on earth that would always manage to avoid being disrupted (just like a human, no matter how hard you will try to protect yourself at some point in your life you will fall, so we don't lie out pillows in front of our kids, we tell then to be aware and if they fall to quickly get up and move on) - so as a corporate you don't focus on avoiding disruption but rather on disrupting others and reacting fast if they get disrupted. Second, my experience - corporates create those very powerful tools (innovation labs) but the corporate mindset is not ready to use those tools (they try to integrate them into the corporate structure, processes etc - take away the air to breathe). And last but not least - most innovation labs are full of R&D people (mostly engineers) but innovation is not the job of R&D is the job of the Business - what I'm saying by that is, that you don't develop a technology or process and then try to find a way to commercialise it, you find a need, a gap in the market (or you create this need) and then use R&D to develop technology to close it. LikeReply101

3mo Daniel J. Curtis A catalyst for change and innovation. Lilia, I completely agree. Well stated. LikeReply

3mo Arsalan Khan, M.Sc. Business and Information Technology Transformation Leader | Speaker Great points Saul Kaplan. As I have observed, innovation labs only produce tweaks because that is all they know how to do. While the idea of R&D is good for business model innovation, its success would highly depend upon who is and isn't part of the R&D group for business model innovation and how far does the mandate of this group go. Here are some observations on being innovative at an individual level and an organizational level. 1. 2. The observations raised in these posts are just the start but can be helpful. LikeReply6

3mo Barbara Brooks Kimmel CEO & Co-Founder Trust Across America - Trust Around the World Hi Saul- Innovation is simply this year's (or was it last year's) corporate buzzword. Innovation requires very high levels of trust and most organizations have yet to overcome that hurdle. After all, it's the 'soft' stuff and taken for granted in the majority of companies. LikeReply41

3mo Daniel J. Curtis A catalyst for change and innovation. Barbara, I agree, but would also add that innovation also requires acceptance of some risk. There is an inherent risk in changing or transforming a business model, process, or product/service. Short-sighted goals created by a stakeholders interest in quarterly/annual earnings reports creates an environment where true innovation is stymied. LikeReply

3mo Fredrik Schmidt VP Information Technology (Cloud, Product & Innovation) Lord knows how true this observation is. it's all mousetrap improvment. a few exceptions exists. Google is great at innovation they just aren't good at turning it into a product and God forbid try to sell it. ibm is another one who has had the grit it takes to make true innovations happen. nobody beats bell labs, xerox from a corporate structured innovation machine. we all know how it went in the end. innovation is hard and you need visionaries. True natural innovators don't grow on trees and I would argue don't even come in teams. they are as rare as truffles and we can't just make one up. LikeReply4

3mo Christian Gray Revenue Driver / Advisor / Connector / Partner at Atlas / Strategic Consultant at CLEARLINK Would love to know what Brant Cooper thinks about this... LikeReply1

3mo Brant Cooper Founder, Moves the Needle; NYT Bestselling Author; Keynote Speaker Hi Christian, I happen to mostly agree. The word innovation has become virtually meaningless. We help organizations innovate their business, rather than focus 'creating innovation', incremental, breakthrough or otherwise. Reinventing oneself doesn't come about by discovering new business models, but rather by transforming the way people think and work on a daily basis in the core business. LikeReply4

3mo Peter Hewkin Founder: Centre for Business Innovation Limited I agree wholeheartedly. On the bright side, I see the rise of 'soft' ventures like incubators and accelerators backed by corporate parents .. which can nurture non-standard businesses away from the corporate culture .. and yet have the route to market when the time is right and the business is proven. LikeReply4

3mo Sunil Malhotra Design Thinking Practitioner, #DesignInTech, Author, [#DesignFiction + Social Innovation] Provocateur… You are absolutely right Saul. Somewhere along the way, CEOs rolled down their sleeves and disconnected themselves from their hands-on approach to growth. Secondly, innovation sounds like the prerogative of arty types which is a big no-no for CEO stereotypes. I remember an innovation workshop I did for a large Global corporation in 2012 which faced most of the issues you have highlighted, foremost of which is that the CEO did not agree that he should 'own' the initiative. Needless to say it was their first and last brush with innovation culture. LikeReply3

3mo Trevor Gordon MBA, PDM, B.Com Surely your whole company should be an innovation lab so to speak. If you create a true learning organisation employees can build on ideas from others at all levels? LikeReply3

3mo Jim Stikeleather Futurist, Strategist, Innovator, Entrepreneur, Reader; Thinker; Mentor, Author; Doer; Envelope… I would (and have) argued that the issue with 'corporate' innovation is that the very nature of the corporation is set up to prevent failure - yet all innovation is a function of continuous failure - fail fast, fail furiously, learn, repeat until successful (with success including learning it can't be done (now) and stopping). Start an innovation project and you are immediately inundated with 'help' - here is your budget, here is your program manager, here is your reporting cadence, ... ASSUMING you could establish a culture of innovation within your organization (risk, creativity, business models, value propositions, instead of business plans and budgets for example) then the operative issue is can management let it run as a portfolio of activity - do not monitor and and manage each one individually, but as a group - let 99 fail gloriously if one reinvents the business. LikeReply3

3mo Roger Witte C++ Software Developer and Transport System Modeller But what happens when the labs are reslly innovative? Remember the story of Xerox Parc circa 1980. tasked with developing the future of computing, they invented Gui, smalltalk. And mouse. The xerox board were too freaked out to follow.through. fortunately, Steve Jobs visited one day and... the rest is hidtory LikeReply22

3mo Roger Witte C++ Software Developer and Transport System Modeller @Jonaton, The visit to parc bu jobs must have been circa 1980 because the Apple Lisa launched in 1982. As you say, Adele Goldberg's team mus have been working on the concept for about a decade by then. LikeReply

3mo Jonathan Lodge CEO at City Farm Systems Ltd Circa 1980? Xerox had GUI and the mouse decades earlier! LikeReply1

3mo Richard Parker President at Repco Development Technologies Big company CEO's and their direct teams cant see past the next date they plan to exercise their stock options. Innovation cant be nurtured and executed within a hard deadline and multiple constraints by overtasked employees. LikeReply3

3mo Michelle Gee Program Manager - Automotive at Aeris Communications Just left a corporate innovation lab and I definitely agree. Steve Blank writes extensively about his research in corporate innovation. I highly recommend it for anyone in a corporate innovation lab or contemplating starting one. LikeReply3

3mo Christopher Weigand Retail design consultant, specializing in helping brands connect with guests, through design. Point #4 stood out to me. Shouldn't a successful Innovation lab's purpose be to destroy the very business that is sponsoring / funding it? Like if we had an innovation lab, our first order to the lab would be 'destroy our business; how would you topple us?'...'Now do it'. And work on projects that aren't necessarily resulting in tangible widgets - instead focus on innovating business processes (as you mentioned) and user experiences. Anybody, on a whim, can turn a machine on and spit out stuff. That's not innovation. It takes good ideas and incredibly deft execution of trial and error. It requires a person or handful of people making decisions, not the typical 'too many cooks in the kitchen' which is the mainstay of business as usual in America. Ultimately corporate timidness and inability to get out of its own way stifles the oxygen and diversity innovation requires - innovation is not for the faint of heart. LikeReply3

3mo Stiven Kerestegian Head of Innovation & Strategy at CIID Agree - a big part of the problem is that most are set up within the existing corp cultural boundaries and run by the usual trusted line managers. It's not enough to change 'the what' you focus on. The paradigm shift must be in 'the how'. How you approach, measure, approve and execute is what makes a real difference in the outcome, reguardless of what/where you want to innovate.. LikeReply3

3mo Madhavi (Anita) Chodankar Strategist, Product Evangelist, Program and Process management Expert Saul, great post and very valid points ! I agree with my friend Mike whose book on Collective Disruption that I am currently reading provides some very interesting insights into the process of how measurable innovation can happen by large corporations collaborating with the small startups that are edging into their zones of interest. In the course of my current work that is very focused on advising and working with startups on varied facets of a product development and marketing lifecycle; I find myself continuously looking for collaborative/partnership opportunities for my clients with other startups or corporates that have the user base that my client's product is targeting. I believe there is indeed an opportunity for win/win if corporates could integrate startups and be able to provide extended services or enhanced value to existing customers or explore newer markets together with the startups and even grow their own customer base. However as rightly stated by you, it is extremely important to align these collaborations to the overall goals of the enterprise; more long term than short term. Thank you for your valued thoughts on this very interesting topic ! LikeReply3

3mo Stacy Varney Gen Re, Vice President Marketing & Account Management, Life & Health Thanks for the great perspective Saul Kaplan - we look forward to your insights at our event soon! LikeReply2

3mo Frank Jensen Director, Innovation Great article Saul, The concept of re-inventing the business models of our organisations is spot on..... LikeReply2

3mo Paul Huxtable Director | Design Thinker | Strategist | Product Developer | Exporter Christopher Pyne I hope you are taking this in to maximize your 'return on attention' and the importance of effectively targeted policy on Design Led Innovation LikeReply2

3mo Brent Schmidt I facilitate insightful action by providing customer insight in a very specific way Saul, excellent post and comments. Why do think 'Corporate innovation labs have difficulty shifting their perspective to see opportunities through the lens of customer experience and jobs-to-be-done?' and what is your experience as to what can help them make that shift? LikeReply11

3mo Saul Kaplan Founder and Chief Catalyst Business Innovation Factory It is human and organizational nature to see things through the lens of how they currently work. Too many treat ethnographic exploration to understand customer experience as market research input to add a product feature as opposed to a foundation for design. The first step in any organizational transformation process is to shift its lens. The best lens is the customer lens. I find human centered design is a powerful approach. LikeReply1

3mo Janine Cahill Founder and Learning Experience Design at teazl As a futurist I believe Foresight & Innovation Labs have a place. However I do agree that most corporate efforts are short term. The difference in Strategic Foresight so that a team of people can work AS IF IN THE FUTURE and drop out products and services as they arise. These are then commercialised and the ideas exploited within the mainstream (And AGILE) Innovation Labs. This provides corporates with the opportunity to do what they are good at - exploit ideas, products, services while leaving the disruptive/ capital letter INNOVATION to the Foresight Labs So parallel streams of innovation - Foresight AND Innovation Labs. LikeReply2

3mo Dr. Chris Donegan Reinvention Capitalist The most valuable assets an incumbent has are market share, distribution, infrastructure, money and time. These are the assets that start ups don't have. The best corporate venture groups engage on a multi-point basis across all of these metrics. Disruption is a much abused word. 99% of all innovation is incremental and therefore perfectly well suited to corporate nurtu… See more LikeReply2

3mo Jim Williamson Very Creative, High ROI Senior Optical Engineer, Research, Development, Design, Test,… I was at HP Labs for years. We did a great job at innovating. More than the product divisions could handle. Alas, that has dwindled, but it's only a matter of will and the right culture. LikeReply2

3mo Annette Dockerty GAICD Non-Exec Board Director, Innovation Director, Start-up Mentor, Marketing Director Saul, great post with clear sign posts, just hope CEO's take note. Keep the wisdom coming. LikeReply2

3mo Sheridan Tatsuno Co Founder at Virtual Oresund Most companies punish intrapreneurs whose products and services will cannibalize existing businesses. Example: I recommended as a Dataquest analyst to its Emerging Technologies team around 1987 to build a $10K workstation to compete with newbie Sun Microsystems. I later met a DEC manager who worked on the DECstation project, which was killed because CEO Ken Olson opposed cheaper systems that would hurt its minicomputer sales. About 5 years later, DEC went bankrupt and laid off all 120,000 employees, which set Boston's tech community back 10 years and led to the famous 'Innovator's Dilemma' book at Harvard Business School. show less LikeReply2

3mo Per Vestergaard-Laustsen Transforming bytes to business Change is difficult in larger organizations. If management can grasp and believe the new idea, it is probably too boring to really be anything worth. If not, but management chooses to go on based on trust, the rest of the organisation will treat it as a threat to what they do best, and not really support it wholeheartedly. Most seeds are just small by nature. LikeReply2

3mo Peter Gruich Studio Design Engineer, Sales Engineer, Technical Consultant One reason they don't innovate is because they don't have the ability to innovate. Everyone wants to brag about the huge budgets they manage but they simply cannot get anyone with any brains to work for them. Having worked in automotive design studio's through out the world, American manufacturers are filled with ass kissers and budget managers. My supervisor at Ford told me 'Ford crushes people like you all the time'. Now on one hand, you have Jerome York telling me that 'someone at ford dropped the ball on this' and then you have a jack ass 'studio supervisor' telling you that 'ford crushes people like you all the time'. By the way, the supervisor couldn't find his own ass with both hands yet somehow, he was a 'supervisor' at Ford. The person that dropped the ball is now a VP at Navistar, another bastion of intelligence. LikeReply2

3mo Wissam Halawani Process Improvement & Quality Expert | Lean Six Sigma MBB | CXM | ISO 9001 | ITIL V3 | SharePoint… Everyone focuses on quick profit lately. It is the kryptonite of innovation. LikeReply2

3mo Geoff Lee Creative Director | Integrated, Digital, UX, XD Interesting food for thought here Saul. Especially the notion of many Innovation labs overemphasizing the production of a better mousetrap, as opposed to a better business model (or perhaps both). LikeReply2

3mo Charles M Lines Independent Consultant, Trainer and Writer Specialising in Creativity and Collaboration '5.Requiring a financial forecast for an innovation project—before exploring it in the real world—only works for tweaks, never for transformation.' This points to another problem that is common: requiring really new and ground breaking innovations to prove themselves in advance -- expecting them to stand on their own two feet and run before they have been born (or even properly conceived!). a frustrating experience for all parties involved :) LikeReply2

3mo Friedrich Menges Owner/ Creator/ Developer at Spectroscopy Ninja 'Innovation management' is an oxymoron (note the 'moron' :-) ) Real innovation won't happen by being planned and managed and forecasted and controlled and ... It just happens. LikeReply2

3mo Sarina Sorrenti Inspiring, Innovative, Strategic Innovation can not be forced and constricted it needs openness, encouragement and fertile ground. Tweaks are better than nothing. The concept of continuous improvement is a mindset that is under-utilised yet for a business it is oxygen they require just to play in the business world. Scenario planning combines discipline and imagination to allow organisations to be open to substitutes, disruption and what ifs. Combining continuous improvement and scenario planning can increase the lifecycle of an organisation. Some business start off with 1 great idea and make it only to the first quarter and other businesses continuously adapt to their environment and make it to the first half, but is the magical businesses that lead their environment that can make it through the whole game. Our openness to what could be and our courage to see and imagine is the softer side of innovation and then the product development commercialisation is the harder side. Find the yin and yang of innovation for your organisation. LikeReply2

3mo Lars Wikstrom Executive Enterprise Architect, Innovator and Thought Leader I agree with your findings. For me I nnovation is more than a lab, it is a mindset and a culture. I have numerous times seen brilliant ideas fail due to the reason you listed. LikeReply2

3mo Gunther Sonnenfeld Principal at Exile /// designing & investing in Smart Ecologies Thanks for writing this, Saul Kaplan. Spot on. One of the things we're doing in this space is co-developing frameworks that place an emphasis on economic solutions and future scenarios rather than just product or brand solutions. The good news is that a fair number of multinationals (as one example set) are already seeing this as a necessity, and are seeking ways to explore it in an array of possibilities. In the venture space, of course, we are advancing ecological approaches to the development of early-stage companies. This also ties back to cross-industrial approaches to design and development (one example: Snapchat hiring BMW's best people to design the future of transportation). Great stuff, Saul. LikeReply2

3mo Pete Farmer VP, Business Development at Water Hero Too many of these 'innovation teams' serve only as a 'feel good' exercise for the corporation. They create the illusion of action as the teams investigate new technologies and set up pilot programs... but that's often as far as it goes. LikeReply2

2mo Nikolai Kopelev, Ph.D., MSIS Information Visionary, Procurement and Vendor Management Expert Innovation Labs are a good thing. However, in many instances it feels like they are being created more for marketing and PR purposes rather than for discovering new things using non-traditional approaches. IMHO, innovations are the cornerstone of progress, not just a fashionable thing to do. LikeReply2

2mo Brent Taylor Design Thinking Practitioner & Coach spot on. here's the rub: as humans we seek comfort and in a corporate setting that most often manifests as validation. incremental improvements feel good because they are easily validated. innovation feels like shit because there is no validation. until teams can learn what it feels like and find the support and resilience in discomfort, they won't be successful innovating. LikeReply2

3mo Friedrich Menges Owner/ Creator/ Developer at Spectroscopy Ninja Instead, as a company be prepared when it happens, despite NOT being planned and managed and forecasted and controlled and ... LikeReply1

3mo Dr. Ralph-Christian Ohr Senior Manager Corporate Development Excellent points, Saul and spot-on comment, Michael! I definitely agree with you that proper balance between separation and integration is mandatory for modern dual innovation management. It's a critical premise CEOs and senior leaders need to realize and build into their organizations appropriately in order to thrive over the short AND long term. This tension as necessar… See more LikeReply1

3mo Kenya Retamozo Escobar Asesora Legal en PROVIAS NACIONAL.. Ojalá en el sector público se implemente laboratorios de innovación para lograr mejorar los servicios, no todo es modificar estructuras organizacionales sin aplicar una real gestión dirigida al cambio y mejora continua. LikeReply1

3mo Jairo H Venegas Advisor and Consultant. I Help Boards, C-suits & Executives to Innovate/Improve Business.… Excellent points, I will spot on number 1, by not distinguishing between short term an long term innovation top leadership and Boards spoil the effort an put the future of organizations in jeopardy. Then anything that may go wrong will go wrong: Mandate, funding, staffing, reach, metrics, reporting, support, decision rights, horizons, career paths, authority, accountability, collaboration, linkages. And the worst some organizations may not have second chances. LikeReply1

3mo Bill Springer Health care thought leader, consultant and educator Well put, Saul! The biggest hurdle to innovation is the organization's investment in the status quo business model. LikeReply1

3mo Ellen DiResta Consumer + Healthcare Experience Design Well put Saul. I see this far more often than I wish I did. LikeReply11

3mo Saul Kaplan Founder and Chief Catalyst Business Innovation Factory Hope all is well Ellen. LikeReply

3mo Pablo Ostolaza Strategy Director at Sonnet Studio Great post Saul. As an active part in the branding side of innovation (helping companies get their story right) I often see how organisations can thrive by bringing external experts to this process. It doesn't have to be a permanent solution but a transition into developing in-house capabilities/knowhow in talent acquisition, resource allocation, corporate culture and many more. Thanks! LikeReply1

3mo Stan Turek General Manager at Hello Delicious! Brands What an excellent post. Innovation labs without clear mandates and the ability to transform business models are destined to tweak existing lines. LikeReply1

3mo Richard Tabor Greene Master of Design--of events, fashions, apps; Author 20 books, Comedy writer; AI & new media inventor AGREE LikeReply1

3mo David Hanson Business Development Professional – Demand Generation - Innovation Expert You also need to leverage platforms that help focus the efforts on needs based scouting and building with clear ROI and Goals - H. Brock Kolls is doing great work in this space, and to do small plug for us - Topcoder is helping these group focus, time and dollar box the efforts while giving internal employees access to resources to complete projects and do their day jobs. C… See more LikeReply1

3mo Rutger van der Lee Speaker, trainer & advisor innovation, marketing, change. New Business Model architect. NXT… Karsten van der Donk LikeReply1

3mo Karel Golta Managing Director at Indeed Innovation GmbH Empower all employees with tools and techniques to innovate from within, every day and in any department. LikeReply11

3mo Peter Gruich Studio Design Engineer, Sales Engineer, Technical Consultant Good luck with that. More talk with NOTHING behind it. Imagination doesn't need tools or techniques, they create them as they need them. You cannot purchase innovation, you only purchase patents. LikeReply

3mo Daniel Egger Doer, Thinker and Innovation/Strategy Author - Creating new VALUE Thank you so much for provoking and sharing Saul. I really, like your reflections and can only agree that changing a name does not lead to a balanced Innovation Portfolio (present, future). Yet, the concept of Innovation Labs is interesting as it is a step towards a continuous process of innovation, away from just past problem solving and a project culture. To have an Innovation Lab is already a big step forwards to anchor innovation with the strategy. What I see is that we have again a conflict of expectations, desires and even individual needs as innovators. An established structure has been a courageous step yet is not a silver pullet. What the organization understand (and thinks it needs) from innovation, the culture and even the strategic capabilities stay initially the same. Innovation Labs yet represent a starting point to mobilize stakeholders to push the limits of how innovation (and foresight) is connected with the management processes. Yet all starts between boundaries. I believe to create even more value using Innovation Labs they should: • Not assume that Innovation Labs are about breakthroughs they are about making innovation understandable and create new value in the present and the future. • Understand the strategic capabilities in the present and the organizational need for tweaks (and not be depressed by it) • Align the new opportunities with the speed and capability of change with the organization, yet push its limits constantly • Have a freedom to explore the white space and connect innovation with foresight • Integrate and connects with the startup community and its agility • Collaborate with internal and external people • Create a probable strategic north, Also Innovation Labs might me initiate with a desire and under the paradigms of marketing, they have a great contribution and possibility to transform innovation more strategic and balance the present with future opportunities. Yet, I agree with such thinking needs a change in worldviews, otherwise not much will change. LikeReply1

3mo Anjo van den Brink '1 Click Supply Button' & 24/7 Home Post Office, without to be @home Big corporates have to focus on their core business and embrace/work together with startups. That is in my opinion the best fit. Goliath collaborate with David! LikeReply1

3mo Camilla Rygaard-Hjalsted Business Innovation Executive So true! Here is a link to our new organizational design that may just be the answer to your prayers: Leave it up to the board of directors - they have the strategic responsibility for driving new business for the company. LikeReply11

3mo Peter Gruich Studio Design Engineer, Sales Engineer, Technical Consultant So you actually think that you can create a roadmap to innovation? How delusional can you be? LikeReply

3mo Jonathan Lodge CEO at City Farm Systems Ltd Thank you for a thought inspiring article Saul. I would like to make 2 points. Firstly the word innovation can be so misused. I have seen innovation competitions select as their winner a solution that has been widely available for many years. The only thing vaguely innovative about one was the fact that the 'experts' could be so ignorant. Secondly it is very sad that th… See more LikeReply1

3mo Assim Ishaque Founder of Simbrix-Art&Craft toys & Envirup-External Wall Insulation, Inventor, Chartered Energy… Excellent article : As a 'reluctant' developer of new products - its amazing how corporates use bureaucracy to hide their fear of innovation. But the innovators also need to take responsibility to take their corporate partners 'under their wing' and support them through the commercialisation process. LikeReply1

3mo Doug Collins innovation management consultant What does it mean to make space for innovation? A holistic approach to that question might involve elements of physical space (e.g., room to stretch out and explore for extended periods of time), conceptual space (e.g., time and a sense of autonomy), and financial space (e.g., an ability to secure needed resources without too much hassle). Perhaps it's the case that for many organizations securing the first kind of space is the easiest task, and so that's where they start. To your well-articulated point, the journey cannot end there. LikeReply1

3mo Jay Peters Design Management & Innovation Specialist | Educator We see most companies still focusing on product/service innovation, when that is often red ocean territory and the hardest & riskiest endevour. In order to fully exploit innovation opportunities, and often more effective avenues, they should also look into communication, process, channel, innovation. They also need to consider the level they wish to achieve: incremental, adjacent or breakthrough, for current organization. LikeReply1

3mo Ian Pipe Senior Finance/Transformation Specialist I've always thought of innovation as a characteristic that only a few people have, rather than something that can be made into an institution. Frameworks to support these people, such as pairing the innovator with a designer and an implementor are a very good idea, but ideas can't be simply manufactured. LikeReply1

3mo Panch Chandrasekaran Entrepreneur | Product Manager | Business Development | Marketing Saul, nice post! As as startup we encountered a few innovation labs from large companies. Innovation usually implies stretching beyond the current comfortable way of doing things and large companies seem to have a hard time with this. Sink or swim mentality that startups have to embrace to innovate is much harder when the corporate support is less than 100%, when near term fires take precedence. Availability of 'unlimited' money and resources could also play a part in the level of urgency LikeReply1

2mo Ali Taslimi CEO at Optimiti The concept of Innovation Lab in recent years has become a political tool for the incompetent management to promote itself, otherwise there is no actual value to the company. Innovation is not a discipline driven phenomenon, it has to come from within - a good example is the legendary Bell Labs, a true example of an innovation lab! LikeReply1

3mo Louie Ingle Customer & Employee Advocate with People & Project Management Experience Doug, It seems that these labs and the CEOs would do better to take more of a 'moonshot' approach, solving for the least likely threats or changes to their industry. Obviously, it's a guessing game, right, but what are the problems of your customers in 5 years and how will you solve them. Shouldn't that be the work of these labs? Thanks for sharing. LikeReply

3mo Yetunde Hofmann Chartered FCIPD NED | Leadership and Change Consulting |CEO, Leader and Exec Team Coach | Facilitator | Conference… Indeed! LikeReply

3mo Gert Staal Innovation Management Professional Saul, TIM Foundation which has published the Innovation Maturity Model will soon publish a guidebook on these matters. We would like interested folks like this set of people to comment on the early version. Thanks for letting us know, Gert LikeReply

3mo Greg Foutz 💪 ♛ Super Hero ♛ 💃 🌐 Mr. Sunshine 🌞 CEO NCC [S-Corp] ஜ۩۞۩ Love 🐒 Fun ۩۞۩ஜ LikeReply

3mo Greg Foutz 💪 ♛ Super Hero ♛ 💃 🌐 Mr. Sunshine 🌞 CEO NCC [S-Corp] ஜ۩۞۩ Love 🐒 Fun ۩۞۩ஜ God morning :-) nice to see this post today. How are you all doing today? I have quite a lot to talk to you about if you have time, let me know and I can show to you how that all can work out very well if you are Interested in starting up something? happy Thursday! First you need exclusive rights to Patents, then actually working functioning prototypes and customer Volumes that can be proven. Prices BOM sales People and Clients list. yes? That takes years to develop. LikeReply1

3mo Peter Gruich Studio Design Engineer, Sales Engineer, Technical Consultant Wow, its amazing that you were able to grasp that so quickly..... LikeReply

3mo Miquel Angel Perez Want a Disruptive Business? - Business Designer - Innovation Architect - Strat. Marketing & Lean… Great post. I totally agree with. LikeReply

3mo Margus Lapp Associate Director at KPMG Want to change the business and make it more innovative, start with changing the KPIs that are used to measure success within the business. LikeReply

3mo Charles Ankner, CP Inventor - Cannabist, Founder & Sr. Steward at SAINT Brand Cannabis Didn't use the word patent once... LikeReply

3mo Peter Gruich Studio Design Engineer, Sales Engineer, Technical Consultant When I used to belong to groups that could 'innovate', they were small and consisted of problem solvers. I look back and think how much we used to accomplish in the automotive business on advanced programs with NO engineers or program managers. In fact, back then usually one smart guy ran the whole thing and he was smart enough to let the people that knew how to solve problems do their jobs and was smart enough to stay out of their way. One thing that I have learned is you cannot solve problems based on what you have been taught. You can use what you have learned but little that you have been 'taught'. I have never met an engineer, program manager, CEO or ANYONE in management that had the ability to 'solve' ANY problems. I have met plenty of people that are no longer considered 'hirable' that could run circles around those that I just mentioned. There were a couple of exceptions but that was only because they were naturals. If you want to innovate, get rid of the posers. The 'engineers that cant engineer', the 'program managers that couldn't manage a McDonalds', the 'ass kissers and spy's'. Until you figure that out, you probably wont be 'innovating' anything. As a matter of fact, Henry Ford used to say 'If I have a problem, I will have a farmer solve it for me'. He used to also tell his financial people that 'they better get their acts together or he was going to bring in some people from the foundry to show them how to do it.' Why do you think he used to say things like that? See how little things have changed? LikeReply

3mo Peter Gruich Studio Design Engineer, Sales Engineer, Technical Consultant By the way, there is a good book on Kelly Johnson and the Lockheed Skunk Works that you should read if you want to UNDERSTAND how innovators work. You probably wont like it. Kelly didn't go for the corporate bullshit or the bullshit artists that corporations want to hire. In fact the people that Kelly hired wouldn't get an interview from the corporate HR jerkoffs that seem to run things today yet they were able to INVENT the SR-71 in a year and a half. Tesla cant engineer a product using existing technology in less than 5 years using computers and 'genius's'. What does that tell you?. LikeReply

3mo paul patzloff Content Marketing Strategy | Creative Messaging | Brand Integration | Persuasive Writing Peter Gruich awesome Ford quote re: foundry workers. Sums of much of this insightful article. It seems 'innovation' just can't truly happen in an enterprise setting. LikeReply1

3mo Peter Gruich Studio Design Engineer, Sales Engineer, Technical Consultant The thing about foundries is how well they operate without any 'management' or politics. Managers hated going into them and if you practice 'politics' you would wind up with a shovel to the back of the head or hurt with nobody willing to help you. Foundries are very dangerous places. LikeReply

3mo Jorge García Consultor JD Edwards Manufactura, Banca & Finanzas, Telefonía LTE. Innovar tiene su reconocimiento! LikeReply

3mo Donna Pace Donna Pace, CEO DP & Associates, DE BONO Authorised Distributor Spain, Portugal, Malta - de Bono… Thanks for this post, in my experience innovation is short changed when its not married to creativity as a corporate strategy. LikeReply

3mo Vasu Ramanujam Client Partner at UST Global Great observations. Thanks for sharing your insights. I would offer that corporate innovation labs stand a better chance to success if it is not lead by any single person ( CEO or CIO led). However, we could have a mechanism where the company( or the business unit) allocates a discretionary budget to provide the right ambiance and the infrastructure for 'self regulating and autonomous teams' to experiment their ideas in a real world setting. LikeReply

3mo Elaine Jarvie Senior Project Officer at CBA Very interesting read. LikeReply

3mo Dave Dowsett Seeking (will relocate) Technology Fintech Strategy, Innovation, Digital Transformation & Survival… Innovation is such an abused word, often with little substance behind it... Companies seem to think it will just magically start when a space with some whiteboards become available or a board mandate that 'we will innovate our way out of this' occurs. LikeReply

3mo Marco Mirko Morana Head of Cybersecurity Strategy at Citi Innovation labs should be better driven by a consortium of corporate VCs government and academics with specific industry vertical domain focus helping startups in maturing their products and services not just for one corporate agenda goals and not just for private sector LikeReply

3mo Breda Fawle IT Specialist -Business System Analyst /ASP.NET/PL/SQL at IBM Global Business Services innovators are born not made LikeReply

3mo Ian Myles area 51 Great article Saul - thankyou. LikeReply

3mo Yazmin Camarena R&D Project Leader Kerry Group that was true LikeReply

2mo Greg Maczka Head of Operations at Walkboard Eisenberg, David MBA, Stephanie Tran, Gregory McMahon, MBA, Andrea Valdez Brandon, JD, CLU, ChFC, Mike Gunnar CLU, ChFC: Brings back good memories! I think we hit 10 of 10, maybe 9 of 10? Hope you all are well! LikeReply

2mo Jerry O'Brien Watson: Cognitive Experience Evangelist This is why companies buy start ups. LikeReply

1mo Mathew Barrie Connecting C-level executives with the best knowledge and solution spotlights in Australia. Unfortunately many companies simply buy startup's for this reason fail with the innovation agenda and end up back at steps 1&2. Many occasions its not skills but simply due to culture clashes etc. It does work on occasions, but integrating 2 different styles of cultures can create even bigger heartache on occasions. LikeReply

1mo David de Closey Management Accountant | Financial Management Accountant | Business Accountant | Accounting Specialist… Good stuff, thanks. LikeReply

1mo Micha Veen Introducing operational innovation at the heart of your business... Hi Saul, Great article! For many years Corporate have been looking at 'operational disruption' through introducing ERP solutions, best-in-class systems, processes, but only a limited number of corporates have really looked at innovative business models to deliver better and more tailored products and services that support customer's demands. However, your article highlights the deficiency in many corporates that are establishing separate teams, disconnected from the wider organisation. I have also seen that organisations have started to look at operational innovation through innovation labs, but as you, I also believe that these don't provide the expected return that corporates are looking for. Only by truly adopting end-to-end operational innovation with an enterprise innovation culture, cross-functional operational innovation teams (as part of their day-to-day operations), organisations are able to transition towards better and more effective innovative solutions that allow sustainable transition towards innovative corporate business models... Thanks again for your clearly articulated insights... LikeReply

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