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?


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