Why is Innovation hard to understand?

When it goes to innovation, most of the decision makers doe not really know how to handle it. Why is it so hard? Where is the process?

Today, innovation becomes more and more important. But what is it? How does it work? And most important, why do decision makers struggle with it?

Innovation is latin and literally means „reform“ or „renew“ and can simply be defined as a “new idea, device or method”.

The keyword is new.

And this is why most deciders fail in innovation.

Folks, innovation is not a matter of chain-of-command. Especially in the german industry. There is no war to win. Sorry, this sidekick is necessary.

Innovation cannot be ordered from a catalogue. Change your mindset about innovation. Please. Or disruption, bleagh.

I will try to explain it:

Some creativity techniques like ARIZ or TRIZ that are used in the innovation process, decompose the existing and recombine it. Kind of reuse of existing ideas, but it is limited due to the possible variations of the combinations.

Other techniques are more or less mind-mapping variations or review-cycle methods like the six thinking hats of de Bono.

Brainstorming might bring something new, but is mostly just a group re-chewing of existing ideas.

Other methods like design thinking, are a process where you already have a problem to solve, or an idea to work on. But you always have something to start with.

Innovation, the idea. The first spark.

To make it more easy, try to imagine that you have a product, solution, something. With design thinking or anything else you have fount the valuable solution. Accountants see the benefit, the ROI. Everyone is in line with it. Job is done. We can go home.

But the guy with ideas is not satisfied. Something does not look or feel right. Maybe it shines in the wrong color, is too dusty. It is this one thought that is in the mind, needs to be caught. Everytime the thought can be grabbed, it slips away. So in mind the guy go fore and back. Like the game hot&cold. When does the “idea” shine brighter? More comfortable? When does it start to fade away?
Trying to replay and to uncover it from the surrounding distraction, until the right way is found and the idea is unleached. Then everything can be seen absolutely clear.

This is how it works, and it is very individual how and when it starts, what inspires us. 

There is no manager that can enter a inno space and say, “hey guys, what new fancy do you have for me?” Inno Gulag does not work. Of course they try…

Sure we can work on ideas, store them for later use. But then don‘t be upset when we do not „work“ to fulfill your objectives to grant your bonus 😉