Most companies claim to value innovation. To say otherwise would be like the GM of an MLB team announcing to the league that they’re not really into winning anymore. This approach doesn’t rally investors or fans. However, since “Innovation” means so many different things to different people, it can be used to communicate almost anything. In fact, in a survey of literature on innovation, Edison et al. found over 40 definitions. The result of the ambiguity of the word has led many corporations into embracing a quasi-state of innovation, often called innovation theater, where buzzwords are used, innovation outposts are established, but progress appears absent or detained.
Bridging the gap between philosophy and action was one of the most common challenges we found in a study) we recently conducted on corporate intrapreneurs. 73% of participants reported that their objective was still being defined or that it was too early to see results, despite the fact that most of these teams were several years old, had already secured funding, and had fully-staffed their team. Our results echoes those of GE’s Global Innovation Barometer for 2016; while 81% of business executives are mindful of the risk of ‘Digital Darwinism’ or fear of becoming obsolete, the majority of organizations that reported having an innovation strategy in place were still struggling to come up with radical and disruptive ideas.