Unravelling the Mystery of Innovation Theater – Uncovering Its Dangers and Consequences.

Now more than ever, large companies have realized that to sustain success in the long run, they need to step up their game in innovation.

But figuring out how to go about this isn’t always easy.

Too often, companies copy what others are doing without understanding why it’s worked for them. This is usually ineffective as not all businesses operate similarly and can lead to innovation theatre—performing activities that look important but don’t actually do much for actual progress.

Innovation theatre is more common than you might think.

To arm yourself with the knowledge of how to fend off or dodge innovation theatre, you must first understand what lies at its core and discover methods for recognising and eradicating it.

Let’s dive deeper into this concept together!

What is innovation theatre?

Corporate innovation is a tricky thing to master, mostly because it requires an entirely different mindset than the one held by most large organizations.

They focus more on efficient deliverables and reducing errors at all costs, creating a formidable barrier to genuine innovation. Sadly, many companies trying to innovate don’t have the groundwork in place to enable success, thinking that copying the approach of innovators like Google is easy and achievable.

Whilst hackathons may seem like a fun way to attempt innovating, they often end up being ‘Innovation Theatre’ and don’t deliver tangible results – so we should be aiming for something better!

So, what is innovation theatre?

Innovation theatre is the term used to describe any initiative undertaken with the promise of innovation that doesn’t create a tangible business impact.

It’s a trap that many companies fall into without realizing it – they reap neither the financial rewards nor the satisfaction of achieving true innovation. When looking at successful innovators like Jobs and Wozniak, you can see why – they had an unwavering focus on their goals and worked hard to make their vision come alive.

Unfortunately, in organizations where innovation theatre occurs, a lack of focus usually leads to a less-than-optimal outcome for stakeholders. To bring about real change, according to Steve Blank, you need more than just occasional initiatives – instead, it must be part of an overall strategy which needs to be integrated into the organization as a whole.

Success lies in executing this plan consistently and focusing on your end goals.

How to spot innovation theatre?

Things may appear to be great on the outside, yet if you take a closer look, it’s evident that the desired outcomes are not being met.

No one intends to create innovation theatre, yet we can often find ourselves inadvertently engaging in it.

To steer clear of innovation theatre, you must first learn to recognise it.

Some of the most common signs that point to an organization doing innovation theatre are:

1. All talk and no action

When a company constantly talks about how “innovative” they are, it can be a major red flag.

After all, if a business has to keep discussing how cutting-edge its products or services are, there might not actually be any real innovation behind the hype. Take some of the most innovative companies as examples: Apple, Tesla, and Amazon. These brands consistently produce amazing new technologies without having to shout about them from the rooftops.

See also  Acura's Innovation Strategy: How Does the Automaker Stay Ahead of the Curve?

So if you find yourself communicating with a company that’s too busy selling the idea of innovation rather than clear outcomes and progress, it’s time to start focusing on what really matters.

2. Misguided Innovation

Combining a business strategy with innovation campaigns and activities is crucial for any organization.

If you’re looking to show your stakeholders that you’re serious about innovation, holding an open innovation campaign or brainstorming session might seem like the easy way out – but it isn’t as simple as it seems.

Sure, these efforts will bring in some new ideas and perspectives, but without a plan of action for leveraging those ideas or someone in charge of making them happen, all the time and resources spent on the activity may prove to be nothing more than a waste.

That’s why before jumping into any activity, it’s essential to consider what problems you’re trying to solve, who are affected by them, and which tools best fit the context.

Innovation should always be used to achieve goals – not just thrown around for marketing purposes.

3. The bean bags and slides

All the bean bags and slides in the world are great, but they won’t make your innovation team truly successful.

It’s important that these teams remain connected with their customers, other teams, and management to ensure that barriers to innovation are removed collaboratively. Having a good team environment is fantastic, and it should definitely include some fun elements like a ping pong table every now and then – but when it comes down to making progress towards achieving innovation goals, there’s no substitute for communication between all stakeholders.

Without communication, each party risks unknowingly operating in silos, which can slow down or even derail your innovation efforts.

4. Unadjusted processes

While the principles of innovation remain the same, large companies need different rules and processes than start-ups do.

But some organizations don’t get that – they try to apply what works for the start-up world instead.

Big mistake!

It’s important to build an effective innovation process tailored specifically to your company’s needs rather than just copying something that might not even fit. Sure, having a set of methods in hand is great, but it’s only useful if you integrate them into your overall business strategy.

That way, innovation can become an invaluable asset for any big organization!

5. Endless brainstorming sessions

You hear the word ‘innovation’, and the first thing that probably comes to mind is creativity, right?

All too often companies think they can throw their teams into a room with sticky notes and call it a brainstorming session. But despite popular belief, research has shown that most brainstorms don’t generate any more ideas than if you let everyone come up with them on their own. What’s more, it takes away so much time from actually getting things done.

Now, that’s not to completely bash brainstorming – it could be useful when done right – but other methods are just as effective while being way less of an opportunity cost.

You could use a dedicated idea management tool or something similar to ensure ideas get collected and addressed asynchronously. That way, you can still get creative juices flowing without losing valuable work hours.

Why is innovation theatre so harmful?

Innovation Theater has a bad reputation for a good reason.

Sure, it looks impressive when you have all these initiatives happening and people talking about being innovative – but when do those conversations start to become just noise? When does the “innovation” not lead to something tangible that can move your organization closer towards its goals?

See also  How Does AkzoNobel Foster a Culture of Innovation?

That’s what’s so harmful about Innovation Theater – it may seem helpful on the surface, but if you aren’t actually taking meaningful steps and getting results, then you’re wasting precious time and resources – something no business can afford to do nowadays.

Let’s explore the potential risks of innovation theatre and why it is so detrimental.

It keeps you from putting your plans into action.

Innovation theatre can provide a great distraction – it often involves fun activities and puts the focus on talking rather than doing.

However, when you spend too much time on what seems to be innovative without referring back to measurable metrics or working on any meaningful solutions, then progress is stalled. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype but don’t forget that innovation is not just about having a good time – there are going to be some tough stages that you’ll need to work through to really make something successful.

Enjoy the process, but make sure you’re actually tackling the problems that will help boost your business goals.

Generates a wave of fresh, exciting ideas in the short term.

When companies come up with concepts for short-term innovation ‘hype’, it can be exciting and even bring about some meaningful change for a while.

But once the dust settles and people realize that nothing’s been sustained, they get disillusioned fast. Before you know it, scepticism sets in, and suddenly you’ve got a much tougher job on your hands to prove that you truly care about innovation. It’s a tricky situation to navigate, but something that must be done if you want real progress.

Generates little or no real value

Innovation theatre is never a good idea when you’re trying to generate real value.

When it happens, there’s no one in charge with their eye on the resources and goals needed for actual implementation and follow-through of the project. Instead of producing tangible results, people prioritize activities in and of themselves instead of looking at the bigger picture. This leads to wasted time, effort, and resources and little or no real value generated.

Don’t get fooled by flashy activities that don’t lead to any results – focus on meaningful projects that will have long-term economic or identity outcomes for your organization.

How to avoid innovation theatre

Let’s face it, it can be painful to implement real innovation in any organization.

The problems that lead to innovation theatre — where organizations simply go through the motions without pursuing real change — can be really complex. But let’s not underestimate their impact: they can cause conflict, slow down decision-making and erode morale, all of which can have significant long-term consequences.

So instead of getting distracted by the hurdles, it helps if we keep our eyes on the prize: creating a culture of ongoing innovation that leads to a competitive advantage in our particular market. To that end, organizational innovations are often the best place to start.

Building these foundations provide the infrastructure for future solutions that will help your business stay agile and ahead of its competitors.

To remain clear of the illusion of innovation, there are other strategies you can implement.:

1. Align innovation with your strategic objectives

If you want to ensure your innovation efforts are worthwhile, then aligning them with your strategic goals is key.

It’s all good and well brainstorming innovative ideas, but if this doesn’t tie in with the big picture, then it can be a huge waste of time and resources. Think about what matters to the company’s greater success and start your innovation plans from that place.

Once you have applied some structure to the process, you can begin innovating safely in the knowledge that it supports larger organisational objectives.

See also  Is Your Product Management Strategy "Owner-Driven"?

2. Don’t copy innovation stereotypes without understanding the context

Innovation is not a one-size-fits-all thing.

It’s not just about copying somebody else’s work and expecting the same results. Each company is different, with its own unique story and context that should shape how it innovates.

Taking cues from the successes of others is smart, but don’t just copy their strategies and ideas without thinking them through first — figure out why they took the approaches they did and see if there’s a way to adapt them in a way that works for your own organization.

Ripping off someone else’s playbook won’t get you very far. You need to write your own success story.

3. Don’t fall in love with shiny technology

Don’t get distracted by the shiny tech gadgets and think that innovation is exclusively rooted in the latest technologies – there can still be a path to success without it.

Sure, getting yourself up to speed on what’s new can aid you along the way, but there must also be a meaningful purpose to your innovation that actually provides real value or else your efforts will draw for nought.

So don’t just get dazzled by the flashy tech and forget about creating something truly useful – that’s where true innovation lies.

Soren Nielsen’s innovative love for IoT, coupled with innovation theatre, seemed so promising for Ernit’s piggybank.

His goal was to instil sound financial habits and education in children with the aid of a device connected to an app. But he failed to recognize that pushing towards innovation before knowing if it solves a problem is a slippery slope. While certainly not the only contributing factor to its failure, we can see how this misstep in strategy has influenced its result.

Innovation needs direction and focus, the key being that you need to get insight into a problem first before embarking on its solution.

4. Prioritize results over tasks for the best outcomes.

Innovation events like hackathons are exciting, but if you’re not focusing on following through to get the desired outcomes, they can become pretty much a waste of time.

Forget that input stuff like the number of ideas, hackathons organised, and the number of participants – you wanna be looking at your KPIs to know what value you’re actually delivering. It pays to focus on getting the right people together and implementing worthwhile ideas while also having the necessary budget to ensure success. Don’t let those energy-draining fun events detract from what’s important: creating real impact with your innovation efforts!

Whether it’s an innovative concept, a creative venture or any other task, someone needs to take the lead and bring those ideas to fruition.

5. Break down roadblocks and empower teams to innovate

Innovators have a tough time when it comes to implementing their ideas in bigger companies.

No matter how creative or simple the idea is, firms of a certain size can take up to a year to implement changes that would take only weeks in startup conditions. That’s all down to structure, bureaucracy and the complexity of those. It’s understandable, but it also can be pretty damaging when you’re looking to innovate and transform an organization—without the right level of autonomy, it just won’t happen.

The top people have a lot to do with fostering innovation within their companies as they set a precedent for how everybody else works.

Instead of just having everything funnel up through them, they need to trust their workers and give them the power to push ideas and make decisions throughout the company if they want real change.

Innovation theatre is a highly discussed topic for a reason.

Innovation theatre is highly discussed for a reason – it’s something we all want to do right.

But what we don’t want to do is look like innovators without actually seeing innovative results. It’s a tricky balance, and if done wrong, it quickly looks like you are paying lip service to the whole concept of innovation.

So, how can we truly shift our organisation and make lasting changes? The answer lies deep within the theories, successes and failures of leading innovator organisations. By setting clear objectives, learning from those around us, understanding customer needs and involving passionate employees in projects, we can create real value with our innovation – not just showboating on the surface.

Do you want to go beyond innovation theatre and drive real results with innovation?

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner Skip to content