The following is a brief excerpt from Innovation and the Future Proof Bank, my text on corporate innovation. I identify six archetypes you should watch out for, and the first is “The Gadgeteer”. From Chapter 9:
When you have an innovator who focuses most of their time on the latest and greatest technological thing, you are likely to have a gadgeteer. A gadget is a deceptively dangerous thing for an innovator. On the one hand, it seems the new thing (if only it could be sold correctly to stakeholders) would be a fantastic addition to the innovation portfolio. But on the other, there is practically no way to tie whatever-it-is back to any business problem.
This is the hallmark of the gadgeteer – a pursuit of new things without any conceptualisation of what business problem is being solved.
Gadgeteers are dangerous for innovation teams because they burn influence at a fast rate. It only takes one poor meeting with a stakeholder (who will likely ask ‘So what?’) to close that door to innovators thereafter. A door slammed in one’s face is one less avenue for the future to get predictability in the innovation portfolio.
But the worst thing about having a gadgeteer around is they reinforce a stereotype that an innovation programme must try to undo as quickly as possible: that innovation is about way-out things with little relevance to the business.
Whenever you spot an innovator continuously wasting influence pushing something that has no direct bearing on a business problem, its time to call it a day.
I’ll post the remaining 5 archetypes over December.
Reprinted from Innovation and the Future Proof Bank, published by John Wiley & Sons. Copyright 2009.