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Paul Hobraft has an interesting article about a report on innovation in the UK consulting industry.

Firstly, it seems that the word ‘innovation’ is being thrown around quite casually these days.  As I mentioned earlier, you can’t proscribe ‘innovation’ as a requirement – it’s an output of the company culture and processes.  Also, you can only call something an innovation if you can measure its impacts.  If you can’t then it’s just an improvement (assuming something good came out of it).  There have even been studies to support this.

So the statistic that said that 78% of people agree that innovation is frequently or quite frequently a ‘modification to an existing service’ tells me that what people saw was just an improvement – not innovation.  And this was probably because the impacts couldn’t be described as part of the project plan.

Regarding constraints and risks, he says this:

If any innovation is managed thoughtfully and piloted well in its introduction the ‘risk’ is no different than thousands of other decisions made within organizations on new adoption of technology, changes in processes or launching new products, actually much less. The boundaries of innovation do need more pushing. Some ‘intelligent’ conversations to scope and explore prototypes would help more.

He’s right, but I’d wager that it’s because if this is done, then the ‘innovation’ is phrased in terms that the business understands, and not as radical change.  The concepts would be familiar to the people affected, but the impacts are bigger than a normal improvement.

If he’s complaining that ‘innovation consultants’ are having a hard time, I suspect it’s because they make big promises and don’t take the time to understand their client better.

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