On Innovation Culture.

I’ve been talking to a lot of clients lately about innovation. In the USA until quite recently and admittedly before the “new regime” took over, a large vehicle manufacturer was proclaiming its innovation culture – problem is their financials didn’t seem to reflect much innovation.

Sure someone will make the old statement about these things being part of “a long term,” strategy – I’m not so convinced. These days, consumers want instant gratification – they really are not interested about what is going to be available in the next generation or series. They want to know “what’s in it for me now” – which really means you are judged by your existing product. It really irks some people to know that “innovation” will render their latest purchase obsolete, redundant, out of fashion or undesirable.

No consumer cares about what benefit Apple, Audi, Ford or Xerox have in store for them five years from now, they’re interested things they can buy and have delivered right now – today – this afternoon! Sure in five years they’ll be ready to buy their next music player, car or printer. Only then, and if the companies are shipping truly desirable products, will the consumer look at them, . . . .  then. What you buy today has little influence on what you might purchase in five years time – all that “brand loyalty” stuff is a fallacy.

Many executives don’t seem to realise is that most consumers don’t even consider what you’re going to do for them in three, five and ten years time. They want to know what’s in it for them today, (perhaps tomorrow or the present budget). It’s time to cut out this “innovation-speak” – keep it quiet it until you can deliver it. Nobody outside your business cares about innovative initiatives. Treat innovation like a magic wand, concentrate on delivering, yes delivering, desirable unique things, and don’t promise innovation. Talking about being an innovation culture will only invite derision and doubt. Innovation is not something to talk about; it’s not really innovation until you really deliver something. 

Sure this is contentious, but for some this is important, innovation is like evolution, it’s how the unknown little up-start or underdog beats the big dino in the end game.

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