It’s the answer to nearly any complex question. It buys you time to think, and actually, it’s nearly always true. And of course it allows you to pretend to know something you don’t.
So, when I am asked how to begin an Innovation Initiative, the ultimate complex question, this is my answer — it depends. If I know context I can do better than It Depends, but it takes time, effort, and money to know context well enough to give a good answer.
What does it depend on? Here’s the partial list:
- Where are you now? Do you have an active innovation culture, or is it a dead parrot?
- What is senior management’s attitude? Are they ready to rock and roll, take risks, consider big changes? Are they seeking incremental ideas? Or, are they avoiding the issue entirely?
- Does middle management see innovation as extra work, or part of their job?
- What’s been tried before? If an Idea Management System (IMS) has been rolled out — and then promptly set aside for lack of use (or over-use) — you’ll be pushing an ice wagon up hill.
- Does your organisation (or organisation) over study things? I’d suggest a culture assessment before an Innovation Initiative begins, but only if it’s not an 18 month excuse to avoid actually doing one. Study is good, but action orientation is better.
- Is your house in order? It’s not a good idea to devote resources to innovation if those are going to be taken back a few months down the road in order to plug a hole in the dike.
- What’s the conversation about Innovation? Is it positive or cynical?
- Do you have resources? Everybody is shy on resources, but really, do you have the horses?
- Is there an emergency of some sort driving the quest for innovation?
- Do you have any kind of process at all? Or is your stage-gate process the pipeline of living death?
So, depending on your answers to the above questions, I’d have a better place to express an opinion on what steps should be taken. Steps might include training first for example. Or, I might suggest the quick adoption of an Idea Management System, or, the re-introduction of same. I might suggest that a rapid flywheel of several idea generation cycles per year take place. I might suggest that a convergence workshop take place — to process all the ideas lying dormant in your IMS.
You get the picture –