The Innovation Paradox


The Innovation Paradox describes one of the most common reasons why organizations find innovation so difficult.

One of our clients is a large engineering firm. They are market leaders in their sector and rightly proud of their processes and disciplines around running projects. They are ideal clients in as much that innovation is a strategic priority and are investing time, money and energy into their innovation programme. What’s holding them back then?

They are a good example of what is called the ‘innovation paradox’, a term coined by Salaman and Storey which in a sentence is this;

“Survival today requires coherence, co-ordination and stability. Survival tomorrow requires the replacement of those erstwhile virtues”

The reason why this is so relevant to them is that they’ve instinctively applied the same practices and processes to ‘doing innovation’ that serves them so well in their core business. The front-end of the innovation process of course NEEDS variance, risk and the acceptance that there is likely to be more failure than success. Those things REALLY go against the grain!

The lesson is that the people, tools and disciplines that might make you World class at building bridges or digging tunnels don’t automatically lend themselves to idea generation. It’s a different discipline altogether. Those disciplines, skills and techniques can be learnt, and seeking help, facilitation and training could make the greatest impact on your innovation ambitions.