Only 20% of researched Danish companies had a formal definition of innovation

Yesterday I had one of those experiences, where you want to stand at the top of the mountain and shout. A friend of mine is working within an organization that just recently went through a major restructure. Instead of addressing the issues of integration the joining entities, the management launched an “innovation” project to push the problems down into the organization. Rationale: we need to think outside the box to make this new organization work!

Question: how can serious efforts to spur innovation gain momentum, when the term innovation is used so randomly and without discrimination?

As part of my MBA dissertation last year I conducted a study in Denmark on the topic of Open Innovation within Danish companies. One of the findings were that only a rough 20% of the questioned companies had a formal definition of innovation. This was disturbing for various reasons: first, because enthusiastic employees repeatedly learned what was not part of the “innovation strategy”, when presenting their ideas, which their only do a 2-4 times before resignation; second, because organizational creativity is not directed to the benefit of the company, which amid the current crisis and management’s repeated cry of creativity within the organization impacts the bottom line; third, because any innovation attempts are almost destined to fail thus reinforcing management’s notion of innovation is not paying off.

Question: why doesn’t management define innovation to address their strategic priorities and bring clarity to a term, which is fluffy to most people?


Saved my the bell

Many companies in Denmark, and this probably applies to other countries as well as, is using the financial crisis as an excuse for not adressing innovation. My assertion is that the managers of these companies have entered into autopilot and executes the proven tactics from previous recesions. Kind of the old saying: “you don’t get fired for buying IBM”. The underlying issue however is that markets grow at different rates.

My question is: will these companies survive the crisis, and if so, is it a result of change management or mere coincidence?