Blind Innovation: Don’t Let it Happen to You

30 October 08

We’ve just wrapped up the publication of our latest white paper, Ready, Fire! Aim? Why a fear of commitment is killing innovation. It’s the third installment of our annual “Innovation Tracker,” which examines the results of our 20-question online innovation diagnostic from innovators across a variety of organizations.

What did we find this year? Simply put, organizations are approaching innovation efforts without first taking the time to lay down the proper foundation. They’re blindly engaging in innovation activities such as idea-generation and culture-building while avoiding discussions around innovation strategy and processes. The problems with this are many. Read the rest of this entry »


Stepping Down for Innovation

13 May 08

futurethink gordon segal crate and barrel

I was flipping through Inc. Magazine over the weekend, and came across a short interview with Crate and Barrel founder and (soon-to-be-former) CEO Gordon Segal. I was hooked by the byline: “Forty-six years ago, Gordon Segal and his wife, Carole, borrowed $17,000 and opened a cavernous store in Chicago’s Old Town, selling products such as forged flatware and fine china. Today, Crate and Barrel operates more than 165 retail locations.” Read the rest of this entry »

Memo to Nervous CEO

24 January 08

The buzz right now is about the dreaded “R” word (you know what I mean – it rhymes with “concession”.) And I know what you’re thinking: is it time to tighten your belt and focus on the short-term? Is innovation – in these uncertain times – an unrealistic fantasy and an irresponsible business practice?

You know what I’m going to say: we’ve been through this before. These times will pass. That shortchanging innovation right now would be a dangerous thing. That when the economy does pick up again, the last thing you want to do is play catch-up. But, that’s just my opinion.

Or I could point to some compelling and hard evidence like earnings announcements. Sure, certain companies have announced some staggering and shocking losses. But, take a look at some of these recent headlines:

“Nokia Profit Soars 44%”
“Nintendo Earnings Nearly Doubles on Wii”
“Netflix Gains Members and Sales”
“Xerox Profit Up 79%”

Is it surprising that companies that have had impressive results also have had excellent track records in innovation? Not to us at futurethink.

It may be tempting to look for short-term answers, but we reckon that having a long-term view is what true leadership is all about. The choice is yours.

Are They Smarter Across the Pond?

11 January 08

What a laudable achievement. The U.K. government in 2007 set up a “Department of Innovation, Universities, and Skills” and is responsible for adult learning, further and higher education, skills, science and innovation across the country.

The goals of the department are to spur research across the economy, provide those in schools and universities the skills they need to be better creative and innovative thinkers, and have more people involved in basic scientific research like math, and engineering.

Besides setting policy, running workshops, providing advice, and delivering funding to schools, businesses and universities, the department also publishes a wide variety of research publications on the topic of innovation.

Just yesterday, the department and the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, honored the UK team who attended “WorldSkills 2007”, the largest and most prestigious skills competition in the world.

We all know that we need leadership, not lip service, to make innovation truly effective. Here’s a shining example of how the UK government’s top brass is standing by their commitment to make innovation part of the domestic agenda.

Visit the Department’s homepage here. You’ll find some useful research that’s free to download.