So what happened to innovation?

Innovation is the headline in every strategic plan these days. There has been so much talk and the promise of tantalising success beyond our wildest dreams if only we could figure out what it means and how to do it.

But we haven't been able to figure it out.

From the outside it looks as if all businesses have done is to raise the level of cynicism within their people because they see innovation as all talk and no action. There has however been a lot of belt-tightening, slashing of overheads and outsourcing. But that is not even innovation's near relative - it is a device to tinker with the bottom line rather than a strategy to build a sustainable top line.

So what happened? This morning's news included a pronouncement from the Bank of Scotland that the end is near (again!). The Bank castigated businesses in countries like ours for a lazy reliance on resources which we dig up and cut down in preference to a rigorous commitment to finding ways to do things differently and better. I have never enjoyed banks telling me what to do (given their association with the dark side and their propensity to feel more entitled to my assets than I am) however it is a compelling argument.

What to do? A new whitepaper from the Center for Creative Leadership offers insights based on useful international research. (see Evidence based analysis is always more compelling and the case studies make useful reading in an environment where many of us struggle to work out what innovation looks like and how it might be translated to our own environment. Profitability is flat and threatening to dive in many service businesses. This whitepaper is timely.