What does innovation mean in business when told through the lens of A Christmas Carol?
"Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of the things that May be only?"
- Scrooge to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)
What Does Innovation Mean in Business?
Innovation is an organization's ability to stimulate and transform new ideas and knowledge into products, processes or services that increase customer value, accelerate growth, enhance operational effectiveness or improve profitability.
Businesses that innovate successfully enhance their competitiveness and position themselves for growth. And while innovation is a key indicator of an organization's success, not all innovation efforts produce the desired results.
Given 'tis the holiday season, we decided to tackle the question - what does innovation mean in business - through the retrospective lens of A Christmas Carol, Dickens' classic tale.
So, in this blog we ask:
What are the innovation ghosts from the past that we'd all rather forget?
Where are we today in Canada when it comes to innovation?
And what might the future hold?
The Ghost of Innovation Past
We decided to let the dreaded suggestion box represent the Ghost of Christmas Past. We also realize that suggestion boxes are still present in many organizations, along with ideation sessions, surveys, misaligned team-building efforts, "Dragon's Den" style events and more.
While each has its place in innovation, many are known as "innovation theatre," and thinking of these tactics as the total of what you need to be more innovative in your organization is one idea we hope everyone will leave in the past.
The Ghost of Innovation Present
The Ghost of Christmas Present is feeling disrupted, overwhelmed and concerned.
Many organizations found they were ill-prepared for the challenges presented by the pandemic, navigating more complex challenges, change and uncertainty than they'd like.
Many innovation teams found themselves in internal discussions about the innovation function's scope, structure, and impact. In contrast, many functional groups searched for insight into innovation skills and felt the pressure to develop them fast.
At a country level, Canada still gets a "C" grade in the 2021 Conference Board Report How Canada Performs and ranks eleventh out of sixteen peer countries on innovation performance. A combination of challenges, including volatile resource prices, changing demographics, increasing protectionism, supply-chain instability, and fast-tracked digital transformation, exposes Canada's business innovation weakness and generates pressure for businesses to become more innovative in domestic and global markets.
What is a poor Ghost to do with so much pressure and disruption? Ours is left searching the bin of rejected ideas to see if there's anything to recycle or salvage.
The Ghost of Innovation Yet to Come
And now, we find ourselves facing the future.
In the quote at the top of this blog, Scrooge begins to realize that while his past and present were downright scary, and his future is looking even grimmer (i.e., he's dead), perhaps he has some power; to change the "Yet to Come."
And while it may seem that we are increasingly living in a VUCA world, we have control over our destiny if we choose today's actions mindfully and strategically.
Thus, the question becomes, "What will you change today to create your organization's innovation future?"
Our cartoon shows a few hints of what your future might hold.
New diagnostics that challenge traditional thinking about how to measure innovation and wiring your organization's DNA for innovation are critical paths to innovation success, as are building the skills that contribute to innovation and allow us to navigate the workplace of the future. CEO's are concerned about the skills employees have and what they'll need. Upskilling is critical, particularly in the transferable skills organizations need. Creativity, problem solving, digital acumen, and leadership are the skills that help people think, act and thrive through uncertainty.
In 2021, no doubt you'll find yourself navigating more change and innovating in new ways. As a result, you may find you need to refresh your Innovation Strategy.
All this is innovation of the "Yet to Come," and it's within your power to choose your future.
Wherever you are on your innovation journey, we wish you a Merry Christmas, joyful holidays, innovation miss-takes that offer gentle lessons learned, and the inspiration you need to fuel your innovation future.
About BridgePoint Effect
BridgePoint Effect is a boutique consulting firm with a bold vision to transform the way leaders and their teams collaborate, innovate and deliver outstanding results.
We help frustrated leaders who know their teams can achieve more.
We offer a framework, practical toolkit and high calibre coaching that gives you the structure, skills and support needed to build an effective team.
Let's get your team achieving more than you ever thought possible.