We are about to come out with our list of The Most Innovative Companies in the world (online this Thursday evening) and it is clear that a split is developing between CEOs and top execs who “get” innovation and those who do not. Managers who thought that innovation was only about bringing in the clowns to generate creativity and coming up with that one great hit (gimme an iPod!) are discovering it’s far more complex and difficult. They’re now tiring of innovation, turning away from it and returning to old ways. That means squeezing out more efficiency and playing even more in the low-cost competitive game. Good luck. The commoditization of knowledge will continue to undermine any value added that comes out of competing on cost.
The vast majority of CEOs and top managers, however, do “get” innovation and show no letup in pushing foward. You won’t hear the CEOs of IBM, GE, P&G, Cisco, Motorola, Philips or dozens of other companies saying they are tired of innovation. What they might say is that they are tired of the innovation fad—of the idea of a quick fix and a quick hit.
The truth is that building an innovation culture is a generational chore—just like building quality into organizations. It will involve massive shifts in talent, massive changes in management and huge changes in process and values. It will take 15-20 years and we are probably in year three or four of that innovation cycle.
So who is tired of innovation? Well, those who won’t be in business much longer.
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