I’ve recently worked with three companies—two U.S.-based and one European—that I’ll refer to to as Company A, B, and C. Despite being in different industries (high-tech, financial services, and industrial), one common theme emerged: senior leaders in each one articulated a strong desire for and an equally strong level of frustration with their innovation efforts. After digging a little deeper, I uncovered the source of the frustration: there was no real evidence that the desire for innovation was being met with meaningful adoption or implementation.
In fact, I found a lack of urgency, misinterpretations, and even downright resistance to the ethos of innovation. While my conclusions may sound harsh, empathy and curiosity are what compelled me to seek answers to several questions: “What is the source of this hostility to innovation?”; “Is the under-performance in innovation episodic or systemic?”; and “What is causing this value-destroying gap between stated intent and actual reality?” Here are three likely reasons:
1) “What’s Now?” agendas
Many companies and brands focus their leadership attention, organizational capacity, and resources on producing short-term results and managing the day-to-day business (i.e., the “What’s Now?” agenda).