So many businesses forget why they started an innovation program: to create new value, improve productivity, grow the business, employ more people, and generate greater profit. In other words, to see a return on investment.

Instead, they’re gambling: betting money on something completely out of their control with the hope of being a winner.

Innovation gambling is a scourge creeping through Australian enterprises, squeezing the enthusiasm out of teams with its vice-like grip and false-hope promises.

Seriously, it’s a worrying trend among SMEs, governments, community organisations and even larger companies, that ideation workshops, hackathons and other ad-hoc events are being run under the guise of ‘being innovative’ with no vision, no strategy nor plan… and consequently no clear outcomes.

It’s essentially throwing money at innovation, crossing your fingers and hoping to hit the jackpot for a quick-fix and short-term high.

Hackathons and ideation workshops are fun. They release incredible creativity and give you a buzz, a cocktail of feel-good chemicals that make you want to embrace every idea.

And that is a good thing.

The downside, however, is the propensity to live off the celebratory feelings and not face the reality that very few of those ideas will actually turn out to be winners.

The common misconception that you can’t guarantee outcomes from innovation programs often justifies the lack of accountability or expectation of a return on innovation investment.

But why would you take a punt with your hard-earned $KKK when the odds of making money are 200:1?

To generate real, measurable value from innovation, the following understandings are key:

  1. Innovation is about implementation and outcomes – not just ideas.
  2. Innovation systems need to be built over time – not on impulse.
  3. Small wins are great motivators but they can also be misleading –the overall benefits should outweigh the costs.

Moving an idea through the development pipeline from discovery to delivery is a process of de-risking.

Addressing the flaws, finding the fixes, and f’learning (not repeating failure) needs to be systematic to be efficient and effective. It needs to be strategic and complement your overall business strategy.

A practical innovation system is not hard to establish and implement.

We help many businesses develop innovation strategy and associated innovation plans. We help them with every factor for successful innovation integration: leadership and governance; idea identification, curation and proof of concept; stakeholder engagement (customers and crew); and knowing what outcomes are required, so that everyone understands what success will look like.

Knowledge is the real power, not how skillfully you throw the dice or avoid getting hit. Knowing what your investment needs to generate, and how it can realistically happen, is what makes you an innovation winner.

If you’d like to know more about our ‘anti-innovation gambling’ interventions, please call + 61 (0)7 3041 1128 or send us an email.

– Brian Ruddle, Managing Director

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