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Innovation: Failure to Launch

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Innovation: Failure to Launch

Aug 07, 2014  


Rustin Diehl discusses the reasons most innovation initiatives fail.

"Innovation" has become a buzzword as organizations and governments realize that it is the ultimate work-around for tight budgets and problems. Frequently, "Innovation Initiatives" are announced, teams are assembled, meetings are held, and a couple of ideas are eventually put forth. However, the innovations are almost never of the caliber that can produce radical and transformative change.

The reason for the lack-luster results are numerous. Almost always, the failures can be traced back to a primary issue: innovation teams do not know how to innovate. They have no method to enabling an innovative environment and their approach is often to "hope" someone will come up with a breakthrough idea. Yet relying on chance to come up with a good solution is like relying on a random strikes of lightning to electrify the power grid. There is simply no substitute for an adequate quantity of consistent, quality ideas.

The loosely structured "brainstorming" that most organizations use does not adequately harness the group's collective "brain processing power." The end result is a small handful of ideas, generated by a small number of dominant personalities. Even worse, the ideas are usually no more creative than might have been produced without going through the trouble of assembling the group or initiative. This is unfortunate since a small sampling of ideas is unlikely to hold the best solution to the problem.

Ironically, these same organizations would never consider taking such a haphazard approach to their physical and financial resource planning. Just as the production of physical products requires physical capital, the production of innovation requires intellectual capital. Whether physical or intellectual in nature, the successful management assets must be approached with method.

Once groups understand that innovation is not a random and uncontrollable event, they have taken the first step toward innovation. From there, they must learn to utilize a suite of best practice innovation models, tools, techniques, and methods.

What innovation models, tools, techniques, and methods have you found to be successful with your clients or in your organization?


Rustin Diehl is an innovation advisor and trainer, focused on business modeling and training with businesses, private clients, and non-profits.  Rustin has mentored University of Utah MBA students in the Technology Licensing Office and delivers continuing education to attorneys and CPA’s. He is the author of numerous legal and business articles, drawing on his work in real estate, business, and start-up ventures.

Join Rustin for the upcoming KMI Master Class in Innovation, or earn your Certified Knowledge Specialist in Innovation - Details Here.

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