BusinessWeek reports on the “State of Innovation”, and includes discussion of two different new surveys regarding innovation. One part in particular stood out to me:
Based on an opinion survey of more than 1,000 top executives across industries, 44% of whom worked at companies with $1 billion or more in annual revenues, the report reveals how innovation happens—and doesn’t—in companies today. Although 70% of the executives McKinsey surveyed (722 senior vice-presidents and 736 lower-level executives) named innovation as one of their top three priorities for driving growth, the survey reveals the inconsistent and at times counterproductive ways in which companies approach it. For instance, according to the report, “although more than a third of top managers (senior VP level and higher) say innovation is part of the leadership team’s agenda, an equal number say their companies govern innovation in an ad hoc way.” In other words, there is no process in place to manage—or, presumably, measure—innovation efforts.
In today’s environment, innovation absolutely must include the voice of the customer, if not customers themselves. The companies who will truly distinguish themselves this year are not those who lock their engineers in a room, Thomas Edison style, hoping to starve brilliant ideas out of them. They’re going to be the ones that open the doors to the lab and invite customers in.
With innovation at large companies in a mess, and with massive opportunity for you to connect directly to your customer, how are you going to change your business in 2008?