Its not about faith any more

Sadly, I have heard today another innovation effort I’ve been following has died aborning. They got so close, too.

Well, maybe not died, but “put on hold”, which is the usual line you get from senior execs who haven’t quite been able to take the leap of faith that’s needed to execute an innovation effort.

There’s been a lot of this, lately. I think organisations in recovery lose their will to innovate as their bottom lines recover. As I’ve said before, really game-changing innovation happens only when there’s a some kind of stress that upsets the status quo. The rest of the time, most firms are satisfied to have incrementalism, which they can get from Lean or Six Sigma as easily as they can from innovation efforts.

Innovation takes a leap of faith.

You have to believe that if you don’t innovate you’ll be out of business.

You have to believe that if do, you’ll reach new levels of success. 

And you need to believe this despite the fact that everything’s working fine right now.

Some religions ask you to believe in less and give you more evidence.

We may be heading for an innovation economy, but rationalists will never make business decisions based on faith.  Oh, some visionaries have done, but the majority are innovation atheists.

The next few years are going to be tough for the innovation community, because mushy case studies and anecdotal successes are never going to convince rationalists that what’s going on is valuable. Especially when everything is getting back on an even keel without the leap of faith.

We need hard evidence. If you invest this, you’re going to get that. And its worked in a predictable way in these situations.

We need accountants running the innovation process. I know the horror that the creatives reading this will feel, but the discipline of innovation is not a creative process. It’s about running the numbers, about a business capability that needs to be measured and reported on like any other.

Its time for innovators to get boring. Even better, for them to become accountants.

3 Responses to“Its not about faith any more”

  1. November 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    'spend 80% on stuff you know works and 20% on measurable innovation' never worked for me, but reverse has been great!

  2. December 1, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    James this is a great piece, sent to me by a friend in Banking this morning.
    Wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments, slightly disagree with the solution. Yes the hard evidence is in the numbers, so my answer is to equip the business to crunch the numbers and where they struggle, pitch in and help.
    We are finding that this approach is working for us, and yes the accountants love it too!

  3. December 2, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    Oh please tell me more! Would love to hear how you are managing that!
    Sent from my iPhone

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