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What is the optimistic outcome from all this? Are most conventional business doomed to remain un-innovative? Probably. :)


While we cannot forcibly change an organisation into an innovative one, we can certainly encourage new innovative ones to start from scratch. Game-changers tend to be new starters anyway.

There is great opportunity for start-ups driven by people who already have the innate attitude for innovation. These could be the already-innovative people frustrated by the constraints put upon them by their current jobs. Or newbies fresh out of school with the next killer idea.


Large established companies can look to spin off smaller, independent and dynamic businesses. They can be unbundled along service/product lines. Alternatively, they could invest in a range independent new businesses – to nurture these as future divergent and disruptive revenue streams while they continue to fun existing well-honed (but non-innovating) production lines.

Small/micro/solo businesses

Tiny companies with few, but highly talented people, may be easier to align towards an unified innovation transformation goal.

This is where innovation transformation is most likely to succeed. One key challenge is that most smaller businesses cannot afford to pay the fees of innovation consultants. There is opportunity here to explore longer term partnerships, perhaps mentoring base, in return for a profit share.

(All the above maybe similarly true for small, tightly knit departments within larger organisations – given the right leader and healthy separation from the parent company. Maybe.)

Innovation buy-back

Once a spin-off or independent micro-business has successfully developed, processified, productised and “monetised” an innovation, the corporations then have the option to buy back it in-house to run as another production-line offerings

There is an opportunity for innovative self-starters to develop innovative businesses as products with the clear aim to sell them to corporations to run. This way, corporations can keep doing what they do best.

There are challenges involved when moving an new product from the innovative environment that gave birth to it to a relatively clinical production line of course. But that is a separate thought.

Innovation as an on-demand product

If most businesses want simple-to-implement, just-innovative-enough tailored, tempered, turnkey innovative solutions, then let’s give it to them.

There is an opportunity for businesses that can commoditise and package creative solutions this way. Perhaps this is the opportunity for a new breed of design-business hybrid professionals with good EQ.

(Advertising agencies are already trying to do this. As are the big traditional management consulting firms. I think neither of these approaches will work because they are already mired in immutable cultural histories, revenue mechanics, and practices.)

Innovation training tied to extremely specific outcomes/targets

Rethink and reinvent creativity and innovation training to deliver more short-term applicable, and immediately usable outcomes.

Forget trying to change the whole organisation from top to bottom. Instead, package creativity training into very easily digestible chunks for rapid consumption, tailored to solving immediate challenges, and tempered to fit more comfortably within the cubicled mentality.

Run innovation machines for corporations

As an alternative to teaching clients how to do innovation in-house, there is a potential opportunity in offering a service to run innovation machines for corporations.

In some circumstances, an innovative solution may not be purchasable on-demand from external consultants. It may make more sense to create temporary innovation machines comprising key people from the corporation and run by innovation consultants.

Each innovation machine would be like a small company – charged with creativity, off site and away from the mother corporation’s rules, processes and apron strings, and dedicated to making an innovative breakthrough on an existing problem.

And once the problem is solved, the machine is disbanded.

The bottom-line: