Author Robert Tucker this week describes the five steps necessary to make a business innovative. I took a swipe at most business’ real interest in innovation recently, but I try to keep an open mind. The five steps:

  1. Innovation must be approached as a discipline, practiced and taught to employees.
  2. Innovation must be cross-functional, not just be the R&D department’s job.
  3. Innovation must be proactive, not just responsive to what competitors are doing.
  4. Innovation must involve everyone in the organization and everyone’s performance evaluation should include it.
  5. Innovation must be customer-centred (even though customers alone cannot be expected to forsee your company’s future needs).

These points make a lot of sense (though #2 and #4 seem to be saying much the same thing), and having worked with some of the companies Tucker interviewed, I know the companies at least espouse to do them. I remain cynical that many businesses know how to, or care to, implement these steps properly. I’m especially skeptical of ‘idea management systems’ (the latest jargon term for ‘suggestion box’), since any Dilbert reader or middle manager can tell you how well they work.

Thanks to John & Suzanne’s Innovation Newsletter for the link.

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