CEO Innovation Talk Is Cheap - InformationWeek

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12:47 PM
Shane O'Neill
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CEO Innovation Talk Is Cheap

When your CEO praises the company's readiness for digital disruption, don't believe him until he helps break down the walls that stifle innovation.

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Do your company's executives give rah-rah speeches about innovation and how they're ready for digital disruption? How often? At the annual company offsite? At monthly state-of-the-business meetings?

C-level leaders could talk about innovation every day, but do you believe them? Do you feel confident that your company has the agility, energy, skills and organizational structure to turn the digital forces that threaten your business into breakthrough, high-growth opportunities that could transform your business?

Chances are, you don't. According to research from Forrester cited in principal analyst James McQuivey's new book Digital Disruption, there's a big disconnect between the views on innovation from those in positions VP or above and those below. That disconnect is summed up in two data points from a June 2012 Forrester survey of 285 global executives:

-- 70% of VPs and above said they agree that: "My company will be more innovative than other firms in our industry or category over the next five years." But only 39% of employees below VP agree with that statement.

[ Looking to shake up your company? Read 4 Ways CIOs Can Unleash Digital Disruption. ]

-- 60% of VPs and above agree that: "Our company will put the right resources -- people, budget, time -- in place to adapt to the changes that digital will bring to our company." But only 27% of those below VP agree.

The same Forrester survey breaks down the responses by company size. The bigger the company, the smaller the optimism about the company's innovation potential.

In response to the "right resources" statement, 52% of survey respondents at companies with fewer than 1,000 employees agree, but just 27% at companies with more than 1,000 employees agree.

"The larger the ship, the harder it is to turn in the face of an iceberg," writes McQuivey. "But changes can't begin with nothing more than executive speeches at company meetings that talk optimistically about the future. Those executives must identify and dismantle the policies and practices that stand in the way."

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IT consultant Douglas Stone explored this same theme in a recent InformationWeek column. Attempts to innovate usually fail at businesses large and small, Stone writes, because companies focus either on the past or the future when they need to consider both.

Enterprises tend to exist in "reliability mode," making decisions based on the revenue potential of existing resources. Before receiving funding for bold initiatives, the innovators must first prove the return on investment. In contrast, startups operate in "eventuality mode," analyzing forward-looking trends and anticipating customer needs. The whole company commits to a vision, but not necessarily an ironclad business model.

Innovation succeeds, Stone writes, when a company can integrate the two modes and not rely too heavily on either: "As a leader you have to put the time and effort in to provide a level of certainty about future events that can balance the natural focus on the reliable past. So before you claim that symptoms such as risk aversion, lack of ideas and data paralysis are the problem, evaluate how effectively you integrate concepts of eventuality into your business decisions."

Don’t live in the past. Don't daydream about the future. But harness the power of both for the present. Solid advice for the C-suite -- and the rest of us.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
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Number 6
Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
7/2/2013 | 10:12:49 PM
re: CEO Innovation Talk Is Cheap
And 70% of VPs and above will be at another company in five years so of course they can claim their company will be more innovative than its competition by then. They won't be around to take the fall if it isn't. It's the employees below that level that have to deal with the decreasing budgets and layoffs pushed from above.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/29/2013 | 5:21:28 PM
re: CEO Innovation Talk Is Cheap
The greatest threat to humanity is the power of big business. Above all, they are the ones who stifle innovation and the drive towards a sustainable human experience in perpetuity. Indeed the concept of humanity is at threat due to these power groups insatiable lust for profit and where according to Forbes a mere 2,000 companies control 51% of the global economic turnover of the world. Some of the few great humanitarian breakthroughs where I am personally aware of that big business has suppressed and destroyed are,
1. The humane non-addictive cure for hard drug addiction based on plants, where it detoxified long-term addicts in 72 hours with no G«ˇcold turkeyG«÷ or human side effects. The reason, it would kill tens of billions of drug sales and where this suppression because of the constant quest for profit, rises above even human life itself.
2. The introduction of a global strategy to prevent pandemics happening that worked in Hong Kong in 1997 and the only one ever to do so and stop the human-to-human killer virus in its tracks. The reason again, there are not the tens of billions in drug sales. Indeed when it comes and where Margaret Chan of the WHO only says that it is a matter of time not when, it will totally decimate the global economy and make the financial meltdown look like a storm in a teacup. But far worse it is estimated that it will kill over 300 million due to the rapid transit systems that we have now unlike 1918 when the Spanish Flu took up to 100 million lives worldwide, and where no family in the world will be unaffected through the loss of a loved one. Again where vast profits rise above human life itself and where such things are of crimes against humanity.
3. The introduction into Africa of PCR low-cost testing kits (the only one costing a few dollars that can determine HIV/AIDS in new born babies and where cheap remedies would then eradicate the diseases for life) that would save hundreds of millions from the scourge of HIV/AIDS and eventually eradicate HIV/AIDS globally by introducing into all nations throughout the world. The reason, big business and charities have a monopoly on the present testing kits that even make money for so-called international charities.
4. Where big business is and has constantly been buying up new patents that can benefit human sustainability but where because they hit the giant corporateG«÷s G«ˇbottom-lineG«÷, they are shelved. We know this as our fellows tell us so and where they advise the largest corporate concerns in the world. Many of these are the answers to sustainability and the ways of sustaining the G«ˇhuman experienceG«÷ itself. But because they would knock the profits severely of current products, they are supressed.
These and other major cover-ups and pure disenabling on the alter of vast corporate profits are the reasons why humankind does not find solutions. But the irony of all this that is constantly going on behind the scenes is that it will eventually even kill off the giant corporates themselves. Therefore the motto seems to be, bleed the system dry of monetary gain at the expense of everything, even human life itself. Can we be so stupid as a species to allow this as the Royal Society and MIT scientists have both independently predicted that by around 2032, the world will simply disintegrate in both social and economic terms under the dictates of the present global system. Innovation is therefore without doubt being destroyed on a daily basis by the avaricious appetite of the global corporate giantG«÷s quest for vast profits and wealth of the very few G«Ű including politicians and the so-called corporate spin-off philanthropic organizations around the world who make billions out of humanitarian work without paying any corporation tax whatsoever.

Dr David Hill
World Innovation Foundation

- See more at: http://www.innovationexcellenc...
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