Innovation is a Skill, Not a Gift

Why Innovation is Hard: Ten Most Popular Reasons
December 4, 2007

Innovation is a Skill, Not a Gift

Innovation should be viewed as a skill, not as a gift reserved only for special or uniquely-talented people. Innovation can be learned as with any business skill such as finance, process excellence, or leadership.

Companies want innovation more than anything as a way to drive true organic growth. Yet leaders often feel frustrated in their ability to bring successful innovation to their organizations.  When I speak to executives, I hear this frustration, and I hear a list of reasons or excuses why innovation is so difficult. That list includes: lack of resources, lack of time, company culture, and lack of process of innovation.  Many executives feel innovation is unpredictable and therefore too risky to invest in, even if they had the resources.

Innovation does not have to be unpredictable.  A method called Systematic Inventive Thinking is a set of tools used in a facilitated environment to generate predictable, progressive ideas. This innovation process uses templates to help regulate individual thinking and channel the ideation process in a structured way that overcomes the randomness of brainstorming.  Briefly, the method works by taking a product, concept, situation, service, process, or other construct, and breaking it into its component parts or attributes.  The templates manipulate the components or variables to create new to the world constructs that the inventor of less than find a valuable use.  This notion of taking the solution and finding a problem that can solve is called function follows form, and it is at the heart of the systematic inventive thinking method.  This method of innovation can be used across a wide range of business issues.  For example, it can be used to create new products, new services, or new processes. It can also be used to create new strategy including both corporate and marketing strategy. It can be used to create new organizational designs. You can also be used to create new marketing communications or launch tactics.

Innovation should be viewed as a skill, not as a gift reserved only for special or uniquely-talented people.  Innovation can be learned as with any other business skill such as finance, process excellence, or leadership.  By embracing a method like systematic inventive thinking, companies have a clear pathway to bring innovation to their firms to drive growth.