The 7 Deadly Sins of Innovation

Over the many combined years our team has been in this business, we have seen and heard it all (well almost, we love a challenge!) when it comes to innovation. We want to share this experience with you and help you avoid the 7 deadly sins of innovation.

Innovation is, of course, what we do at KICR Innovation; it’s our heartland, our bread and butter and our passion. We are lucky enough to collaborate with great clients as partners and work with people who are as passionate as us about achieving successful innovation, fast.

We do know though that innovation isn’t easy – from initial ideation, co-creation and commercialisation. In some ways, we see innovation like climbing a mountain – seemingly impossible at first, but if you plan carefully, cut it up into manageable chunks and look to do it over a period of time, it is no longer impossible, but an opportunity to feed your business’ financial growth over the long term.

1. Playing Innovation Roulette

Innovation is like playing roulette. If you place all your resources (or chips) on one idea (number), the chances of the ball landing on it are very low. But bet on the red or black and your chances of success increase exponentially. Spread your bets (projects) across the “Innovation Spectrum”- short/medium/long and high/low risk, for maximum returns.

2. No Burning Platform

Innovation within a business that doesn’t believe they need to innovate invariably fails. Now let’s be clear; the time to innovate is when you are at your most successful. However, many companies fall into the ‘Success Trap’ and do not listen to innovators. Look at Nokia and Blackberry in telecommunications, Kodak in photography and HMV in music. The corporate graveyard is full of market leaders who stopped listening to innovators. But those innovators also failed to create the ‘Burning Platform’ that forces the innovation agenda.

3. Idea Blindness

Like love, ideas can be blind and organisations can fall for certain ideas. Regretfully, the psychological phenomenon of selective perception will make sure you only see the positive points of an idea and although people will often say yes, it is fatally flawed for one age old simple reason:

“It is your idea, not theirs.”

Co-creation of ideas allows for consumer engagement before, during and after a project; ensuring ideas are picked apart and tested before being settled upone. It allows for a successful foundation within the organisation avoiding “Management Resistance” – the biggest killer.

4. The Creative Inventor

Many organisations put their most innovative and creative individual in charge of innovation. This is a mistake. Innovation requires a skilled operator/tactician with the commercial nous to deliver the agenda, culturally garnering support from powerful allies. This is typically not a skill set of the ‘creative inventor’.

5. No Strategic Vision

Many times, we are asked to create an innovation strategy and end up creating a business strategy. Innovation is an enabler to business strategy, not a substitute. Setting clear expectations and KPIs for innovation which are linked to 3-year revenue return from that innovation is essential and forms part of, not a substitute for, business strategy.

6. Definition of Innovation

It is a schoolboy error, but the most common issue is where nobody within the organisation understands what they mean when they use the ‘I’ word!

We often ask a leadership team to write down what innovation is within their business. We are yet to see a 100% aligned response.

If the leadership team are all talking about different things when discussing innovation, it is no wonder it is considered a frustrating experience. Start here before you do your ideation in order to contextualise the output.

7. Great Expectations

Not the Charles Dickens novel, but ill-contrived expectations for returns on innovation for leadership set the innovator’s work streams up for failure.

Keep it real, keep it flexible and it’s our job as innovators to set the right expectations. Remember if innovation is done well, it should be GREAT!