Dilemmas of innovation culture and capabilities

Innovation is cool. Everything that we see around us were once a figment of some freak’s imagination… a figment that, over time, became a spark, which lit a fire which drove an engine that made things change. To me, that process of innovation is fascinating!

One of the most challenging parts of innovation – and one of the things that makes it so fascinating – is the complexity. It’s not like we can wake up some morning and decide to have a Nobel Prize winning breakthrough innovation – the disruptive innovations that really make a difference usually come from unexpected places and not as a result of ‘hard work’.

It was interesting to see that 3M – the guys that came up with the Post-It note amongst a heap of other stuff – are running through that dilemma. A few years ago, they brought in a CEO who made them really efficient – using GE’s famous Six Sigma program – but who arguably drained out the culture and capabilities that yielded the innovation that made 3M the poster-child creative companies (more).