I’m giving a talk this week in Amsterdam about building a culture of innovation and I stumbled across a recent innovation report from Capgemini that I found interesting.
Capgemini reports that 87% of companies now have a space dedicated to innovation (a 27% increase in innovation centers versus last year). But only 17% of companies say that innovation is taking place across the organization (beyond those innovation centers).
In other words, investing in innovation centers isn’t actually making those organizations more innovative. One of the biggest barriers to innovation that Capgemini identified is culture. Most organizations lack a culture of innovation. 75% of senior executives believe their organizations have a culture of innovation, but only 37% of employees feel the same.
Whether at the macro-level of an innovation center or the micro-level of a department brainstorm, innovation is often treated as an isolated siloed activity, separate from the day-to-day. Innovation centers and brainstorming sessions are then symbolic only, not actually driving innovation.
As John Rethans from Apigee observed in the study:
“I’ve seen a number of places where the innovation center is literally a glass-walled aquarium on a busy street in which 30 or so hipsters are on display, working on MacBooks at standing desks. Meanwhile, the rest of the company toils away in the surrounding towers, working in cubicles with five-pound, 10-year-old laptops. This type of center devolves into innovation as spectacle instead of innovation as strategy.”
Here’s how Capgemini CTO Larry Cohen summarized the findings of the study:
“Organizations need to accept that they cannot just open innovation centers and expect an overnight transformation in their creative output. To achieve and sustain real change, firms need to create a culture in which all employees are encouraged, through financial and non-financial incentives, to experiment and push ideas to market.
“Innovation units can play a large role in this process, partnering with individual teams to develop ‘out of the box’ ideas and provide a link to the partner and vendor ecosystem. However, a sense of innovation and creativity needs to be instilled company-wide if it is to be truly successful.”
Here are a few other cartoons I’ve drawn on this topic over the years:
“After the Brainstorm” June 2010
“Innovation Catch-22” November 2014
“Garden of Innovation” October 2007