Archive image courtesy of My Starbucks Idea — ideas.starbucks.com.

The Debate

There’s an insidious debate that’s bounced around for probably the better part of twenty years now. It’s the debate of whether or not ‘innovation is everyone’s job’.


A high energy Innovation Space. Courtesy of HP Development Company.

Innovation Spaces — which can refer to any space intentionally designed to foster and facilitate good innovation work — come in all sorts, shapes, and sizes. Perhaps the most commonly understood of these is the ubiquitous Innovation Lab. However aside from formal “labs” per se, Innovation Spaces can also be incorporated in many ways into other, more comprehensive spaces, so long as they meet certain criteria that is important to innovation work. Examples of this range widely — from large open collaboration spaces to R&D Labs to Advanced Design Studios — each facilitating some important aspect of the overall innovation…


Have you ever been on a plane flight where as you take off all you can see out the window is hazy and overcast weather, only to at some time later have your flight break through and emerge above the clouds, where all of sudden the sun is shining bright and clear? If so, you’ll know how this gives one a sense of achieving clarity after having a long period of uncertainty and doubt.


Photo by Mikes Photos from Pexels

Prologue


Ever notice that some organizations seem to be far more consistent at delivering new innovation than most? I have. Ever wonder why this is… what they do differently? I certainly have.


Image: Close-up photo of oil painting. Photographer: Grzegorz Wojtasik. www.pexels.com.

As I visit and observe what I call the “existential festivals” — events like Burning Man, SXSW, TED, Sundance, Bonnaroo, and ArtPrize, for example — I ask myself, “What are people really trying to accomplish here — besides just having fun?”


Image courtesy of Nissan Innovation Garage

If you’re like me and a lot of other entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs around the world, then you’ve likely romanticized — at least at some point in time — about what it must have been like in great companies like Apple, HP, Google, and Cisco when they were just getting their start — in their founders’ garages of all places (or in some cases in their parents’ garages).


Unless your business strategy is to be a fast-follower (an increasingly risky and dangerous strategy), you invariably have markets or market segments in which your objective is to be the Market Leader. As Jack Welch so skillfully demonstrated while he led GE, Market Leadership is the one real strategy that has long-term staying power… anything less tends toward decline (and often diverts resources from being invested elsewhere). He therefore mandated that GE would be №1 or №2 in every market it was in, or it would get out. …


There are a lot of businesses in the world — some estimate 500 million or more. They all provide some manner of product or service that makes our world work the way it does today.


In the course of my training with business leaders, we inevitably come to the existential business question… “What is the purpose of a business?”

Anthony Mills

CEO — Legacy Innovation Group / Executive Director — Global Innovation Institute. Speaker. Writer. Scholar. Strategist. Adventurer. Global hitchhiker.

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