Everyone talks about the need for creativity and great ideas. It’s become the fad of the month with entire industries now devoted to idea generation. Innovation labs and teams are the new thing and are popping up all over. And these new innovation labs have their own set of rules; white boards and post-it notes are mandatory; go for quantity and encourage wild ideas; be visual; number your ideas; twenty-five ideas per hour is good, fifty ideas per hour is the sign of good brainstorming (and I suppose that a hundred ideas an hour is like nirvana!).
Separate spaces are created for these special innovation teams. Members are encourages to ‘drop in’ whenever they feel creative. Markers of every color are supplied along with storyboard frames. Create! create! create! is the mantra but very rarely do we know what to do with all those ideas.
In fact, ideas are dime a dozen unless they can be monetized. And it’s the execution that makes this happen.
Execution must be fundamental to your innovation strategy. It has to central to the organization’s culture; so much so that it drives the behavior of managers at all levels. In the end, no innovation strategy can be planned without taking into account the organization’s ability to execute it. Because without execution, ideas stay as ideas, and innovation is stopped dead in its tracks.
Here’s the takeaway: The key to successful innovation is not idea generation; ideas are dime a dozen. No, the key to innovation success is in the execution of turning the myriad ideas generated into an industry-changing outcome.
Patrick Lefler is the founder of The Spruance Group – a management consultancy that helps growing companies grow faster. He is a former Marine Corps officer; a graduate of both Annapolis and The Wharton School, and has over twenty years of industry expertise.