“Innovation is not for us”, they say

If I had a dollar for every time that someone said that to me, I wouldn’t need to work another day in my life. As someone who is trying to get corporations in Pakistan to understand the value of innovation, this declaration is extremely frustrating. The commonly stated reasons for shunning change and innovation I hear are:

  1. Our product/service is standardized and does not require innovation.
  2. Our industry (generally financial markets) is heavily regulated and does not allow innovation.
  3. We are in a sellers’ market and can sell all our production without fuss. Why bother changing anything?

There are partial truths in these statements that lull the protagonists into a false sense of security, and hence portend a dark future for their business. Take the famous case of Blockbuster. At the top of its game it had 9,000 stores, renting out physical DVD’s, videos and games in the US and overseas. In one particular year, it made $800 million in late fees alone. Along came Netflix and first started up a “DVD by mail” business, then morphed into streaming, has close to 100 million subscribers and is now producing its own shows, such as House of Cards. It spends over $5 billion a year on production costs alone.

Blockbuster, meanwhile, declared bankruptcy and recently closed its last store. Interestingly, Blockbuster had an option to buy Netflix for $50 million in 2000, but showed it the door. Meanwhile, Netflix was valued at $55 billion in Dec 2015 ! If you had asked Blockbuster in 2000 whether they needed to innovate and in what direction, they would probably have kicked you out.

There are quite a few other examples of companies being blindsided by new products, new technologies and apps. The problem is that it is not a stealth attack that sends them under, but rather, an inability to accept and foresee change and the need to constantly innovate. Like a frog that is put into a cauldron of cold water and then unsuspectingly boiled over a slow flame, by the time these companies realize that the water is too hot, it is too late.

This got me thinking about how to present innovation to companies, to help them see it as a daily function of their job rather than the workings of a mad scientist locked up in a high tower, dreaming of, and delivering, the next life altering gizmo. That thinking resulted in the birth of my Daily Innovation Model, as follows:

                       Innovation Quadrant for Corporate Innovation

Curious? Let’s see it in closer detail next.

Getting started with the Daily Innovation Model
Putting the Daily Innovation Model together
How to conquer your Daily Innovation Zone
Creativity, creative leadership and the value of innovation management

By Rumman Ahmad. An MSc in Creativity and Change Leadership from Buffalo State University, Rumman trains, teaches and facilitates groups of people to learn and apply the creative process to solve problems, energizing and motivating them to do their best. He is also the organizer of an annual conference on innovation in Pakistan. An Exago partner since 2016 in this key geography, Rumman has developed a Model for Daily Innovation which can be complemented by Exago’s innovation management software.

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