Innovation Blog

  Innovation Management: Still Sub-Par

By Shlomo Maital

  A 2007 survey of global executives by McKinsey Global Research on innovation reveals a paradox that most managers keenly understood already:  As the importance of innovation grows, the quality of innovation management remains low and perhaps even declining.

    Notes the McKinsey survey:

1.    Innovation leadership is weak; though leaders seek breakthrough ideas, nonetheless innovation efforts are focused on products and services:

   “ ….companies often seem to isolate innovation projects within business units, even when they see bigger opportunities. When asked where change would produce the greatest improvement in performance, for example, top managers rank product and service innovations much lower than breakthrough ideas.  Yet a majority also say innovation at their organizations is primarily focused on developing products or services and that dedicated teams within business units are the most common way they develop and commercialize new ideas (Exhibit 2). Less than half of top managers say they frequently define themes for breakthrough innovations.

 2.   Innovation leaders  are not an integral part of the innovation process in their organizations.

 “… top managers indicate that they are isolated from the innovators within their companies. Most often, top managers get their new ideas from informal, external sources (such as discussions with peers and interactions with consumers), not from the business units or formal teams where innovation tends to occur

 Three years later, in 2010, after a global crisis, the question arises:  Has the innovation management process been repaired?  In particular, does the organization’s leadership truly lead and drive the innovation process?    I am skeptical.  The paradox remains. Innovation’s importance grows day by day.  Innovation management remains highly flawed.