The seven deadly sins of innovation

The seven deadly sins of innovation

Entrepreneur, Creel Price, on the importance of innovation in the enterprise

Creel Price is no stranger to innovation. The co-founder of Blueprint Management Group used it as the foundation stone of the business, selling the start-up for $100 million after investing only $5000 a decade earlier.

“It’s one thing to have a leader who supports change, but if the team is not supportive or if you don’t have the right business model and support network for innovation, it probably won’t happen,” Price says.

There is a growing desire among companies to innovate, he says, but a lack of understanding around how to do it may be preventing growth in the area.

“A CEO comes on board and says: ‘We’re going to make this all about innovation.’ But, by making innovation a bit too overt, they alienate everyone else. Everyone should be responsible for innovation, not an individual appointed to a position around it.

“People start to do everything but support innovation if there’s a person appointed to the role and the rest of the organisation does what it can to bring innovation down.”

Layers of red tape may also inhibit innovation. Price says ideas need to be implemented quickly if they are to have the desired impact.

“There’s so much change but if you have too many layers of red tape, innovation takes so long to implement. People lose faith and, for the outcomes you’ve wanted to achieve, the cost is larger and people shy away as a result.”

Price says research and development investment has decreased, but must become front-of-mind if companies are to successfully take on projects in different ways.

“It used to be that R&D was one of the things analysts looked at to measure the strength of a company. These days, this budget is very small in organisations. R&D as a budget is a fairly important measure.”

CIOs, he suggests, should try to see innovation as more than a monetary investment. When companies become fixated on profits, the long-term payoff on innovation becomes difficult. It’s an ongoing challenge because the share market tends to look at the short term. CEOs have a three to four year window of tenure in order to showcase results.

“Clearly, this amount of time isn’t long enough for innovation to happen,” Price says.

“My belief is that organisations that embrace long-term innovation will be the eventual winners and, hopefully, over time the share market will recognise that.”

Read about more IT leaders in CIO Australia's Management category.

Price’s seven deadly sins of innovation

1. Envy: The sin of looking for greener pastures.
TIP: Build a champion team, not a team of champions, by actively building their resumes.

2. Pride: The sin of arrogantly believing your own publicity.
TIP: Invest in continuous improvement and if no decent competition exists to beat then compete with yourself.

3. Sloth: The sin of unproductivity and resistance to change.
TIP: Foster a culture where staff are green and growing, not ripe and rotting. Replace static job descriptions with an evolving collection of projects and prototypes.

4. Lust: The sin of having an affair with innovation itself.
TIP: Set a ‘daring audacious goal’ and make everyone responsible for innovating to help get you there.

5. Gluttony: The sin of having too much corporate fat.
TIP: Become lean and mean to be fast and flexible — look to cut ‘fat’ that slows you down.

6. Greed The sin of focusing on short-term profits.
TIP: Choose investments and costly innovations that have a combination of both short and long term gains.

7. Wrath: The sin of finger pointing at failure.
TIP: Experiment to fail fast. Celebrate those who try and fail, not those who don’t try at all.

Find out how CIOs can influence new innovation.

Recommended reading:
Atlassian showcases the value of innovation
Think innovation for better business results
IT outsourcing: 3 reasons your vendor won't innovate

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