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Why We Have A Failure To Innovate

Why We Have A Failure To Innovate

Failing to innovate is like failing to launch. We just don’t get off the ground.

Sound familiar?

    • We think long and hard.
    • We look around and get goosebumps at the thrill of it all.
  • We certainly have good intentions.
  • We admire our ambitious ideas.
  • We have that big hairy grand vision.
  • We’re excited.
  • We excited everyone around us.
  • We plan. We prepare.
  • We execute.
  • Utter #FAIL.

What happened? Why did we #FAIL?

Well most likely a whole number of things at first glance but when you peel away that onion? We most probably failed to properly explain the thing. The words have hollow meaning and sense to them. People hear the word but don’t really understand what it now means. So when planning that trip to the moon we probably didn’t get all the necessary parties to actually understand what this grand scheme – this ‘innovation’ completely entailed.

Most likely, you were speaking and they did their listening. We humans smart as we think we are are only able to understand what we ourselves can articulate. And that comes from deep inside our own subconsciousness. The experiences we and our ancestors have had – for ever. So how on Earth could another human understand you. And then based on what they hear and their own interpretation they then can’t articulate – translate or engage with – the words coming out of each of our mouths.

What chance breakthrough innovation when we are all bound by our constructs – both paradigms and mindsets.

So How Do We Innovate?

Going outside any safe or acceptable zone of is terrifying for anyone and often just impossible for a whole company. So what to do?

Well put simply we think there needs to be a mechanism of sharing the very meaning of words and ideas – in a safe place. No one wants to look foolish as they realise their definition is different to everyone else’s. Indeed theirs may even prove to be the better one.

When a business says it wants to be innovative in order to become or remain being a prosperous 21st Century social enterprise, most likely, there’s little to no comprehension of what that really involves. Understanding of the complexities involved in achieving the organization’s future vision is way short of the enormity of changing everyone’s meaning of almost every definition they have spent years harboring.

You must understand that innovation is more than an activity – it is a capability or system that needs resources, funding and persistence. In order to build it into our company’s future, we then go back to drawing board, review the strategy (most likely we throw it out) and decide to look the organization from the top down – and quickly realize we need to rebuild it from the ground up. When we really begin to look at what’s holding the company back, we’ll most like find ourselves at foundations of our business. Your business systems are complex; in order to interweave innovation, you must understand dynamic complexity, not just detail complexity. Complex isn’t synonymous with complicated.

There’s no framework for this to happen – so, no meaningful foundation for success. For true success It’s paramount that the leadership takes this step back and looks at this specific cause of the failure to innovate. It is never the technology or the idea or the fact that people aren’t smart.

It’s the definition and meaning inside peoples aheads that stops change. So we need to go back to drawing board, review common words and ideas like vision, strategy, operating models (most likely start defining chunks of them again) and look the organization from every dimension. Businesses are complex; in order to interweave innovation,we must deeply understand all these aspects – get inside the dynamics. Then completely rewrite the meaning so everyone understands.

It’s the way only to INNOVATE.


Post written by John Caswell and Macala Wright

Macala Wright
About The Author
I currently serve as the head of digital innovation and strategy for Group Partners, exploring societal and cultural trends that are effecting businesses in the 21st century. Widely recognized for my writing on digital futurism and technology, I've been quoted or had my work cited in The New York Times, ADWEEK, Gawker, Defamer, NRF Smart Brief, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mashable, Los Angeles Times, Direct Marketing News, The Next Web, Fox Business, The Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly. You can follow me on on twitter @Macala or read my blog.

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