Innovation is not a spark

Sometimes people believe that Innovation is a spark, a flame that suddenly illuminates the dark mind of some manager or some engineer, locked in their office, staring at the white ceiling and listening to Bach.

Those are people that say “With such an idea you cannot help to change the world and become rich, for sure!”, Those are the same people who say “With that amazing camera you cannot take bad pictures, it is full automatic!” and than “ With that kind of guitar you cannot play poorly, it sounds wonderfully!”.

Well, it’s time to dispel a few myths: with a professional camera you can take horrendous pictures and with a great  Fender guitar you can play bad. Even badly.

In the same way, of course, with an idea in your mind it is quite possible to not earn any money (no less than lose it at all), do not change anything in the world and sometimes making a fool of yourself in front of the world that you would like to change.

However the Idea can be the starting point of the process, called Innovation, which aims to create value starting right from an Idea.

So Innovation is a process, it has got a beginning, an end and different phases. It has got owners and stakeholders, it suffers positive and negative influences, it has got some organizational structures willing to pay for its costs and other ones ready to enjoy the successes: new products, new services or new and better ways of doing business.

Within the Innovation process we must get used to think of some key concepts such as: the Idea refinement, the Opportunity building, the assessment carried out by iterative processes that wisely distribute resources, the Business Case making off. Eventually we will have to convince our sponsors (external funder or our organization internal structure) to finance the prototypal or real development of our Opportunity, but only after have well defined and rationalized all the boundary conditions.

It is therefore clear that, to properly enable Innovation policies in large enterprise organizations,  we need to change some organizational models in order to make them compatible with this new process phases. A process that must be properly designed and, therefore, developed, with the aim of providing the organization all the necessary tools to overcome the so-called “Valley of Death”, that very sore decision space located, in any organization, between the discovery of a good idea and its marketing.

The risk, otherwise, is continuing to play an out of tune Fender guitar.