It’s not a light switch: you can’t have innovation on demand. Rather it’s a space where you wish there were lights. It’s a space where, if we are lucky, light will occur. But not at the simple flick of a switch. Innovation can be nurtured, or it can be provoked, but it’s never on demand. It only happens if circumstances align: the need, the space, the permission (claimed or awarded), the opportunity, the support, the reason, the imperative.
There are many contexts for innovation: the most visible is when organisations talk about future state, where they mean new technology or offering, but it can also mean success outside a system, new solutions to old problems.
Look at the corollary: you can replicate or innovate. Replication is to do it again, innovation is to figure out how to do it new. How to change, to adapt, to rethink.
Innovation may be nurtured, by giving it labs, workshops, cool rooms and beanbags, but equally it can be provoked through starvation, denial and need.
To deny innovation is to deny the organisation it’s future state: but to nurture or provoke it is harder than just desire or environment.
Where many organisations end up is provoking external innovation: competitors and breakaways, so they do the hard part, provoking action, but fail to benefit from the end results. Losing the initiative.
It’s worth thinking about your organisational stance towards innovation and how best to benefit from it internally.