Where's my innovation?


I've been reflecting on 15 years spent helping business meet their challenges by facilitating workshops. Given how many workshops I've actually run (probably around 500), and how many amazing ideas I've seen generated in those sessions, the proportion of 'innovations' in the market place that have come about as direct result of the work I've done is really relatively low.

Now, maybe innovation is simply something that humans like to discuss because it's so hard to make real or perhaps I haven't always seen the outcomes from my work. Whichever way I decide to look at things, there's something that's become very clear. Innovation can only happen in one of two situations.

1 - When a company is new (and has no corporate baggage),


2 - When an established company undertakes Exnovation first.

Hold on.... what's Exnovation?

Exnovation is getting your house in order, telling your kids to clean their room, making space for newness and ditching anything that's irrelevant or is going to block your ability to do something new. At an individual level this makes sense. I know kids, like new companies, are great at new stuff because, well they're kids (ready up on Sir Ken Robinson's work to follow that line of thinking). I also know that many adults need to do a big tidy in order to then feel ready to do something new - or is it just me?

So what?

So... to stay on message, the thing I've learned is that innovation often doesn't happen simply because the great ideas that are born in workshops can't grown and flourish in a 'hostile' environment. Organisations tend to be staffed primarily by highly conservative individuals (who don't like risk) that are brilliant at ensuring said organisation is running efficiently. What exists is a metaphorical assault course that every new idea must complete at birth. Most don't make it through the fire-pit of finance, the spikey sand-trap of sustainability etc. which leaves dead ideas littered everywhere.


At The Insights Shed, we see the amount of time, money and effort that goes into workshops. To make best use of this, we always look beyond, to the world that awaits ideas born out of our work. We identify the potential traps through Exnovation, naming and identifying the traps to mitigate against them. Plus, at board level, it's ofter a revelation to see all the processes that have stacked up and are slowing and preventing innovation.

I'm always fascinated by the amazing capacity that people have to generate new ideas. I know participants walk away energised, enthused and excited.

It's the 'what next' bit that I feel is where the greatest opportunity to increase innovation potential lies.