NEW BOOK: Pivotal: Creating Stability in an Uncertain World Coming June 18, 2024

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Innovation Insights
by Stephen Shapiro


2. Avoid Becoming a One-Hit Wonder

In yesterday’s strategy from Best Practices are Stupid, I talked about the three levels of innovation: event, capability, and system. In today’s post, we explore the capability level.

Here is strategy 2: Avoid Becoming a One-Hit Wonder

Do you know the bands Lipps Inc, The Sugar Hill Gang, or Haddaway?  You might know the song that each of these artists made famous: Funky Town, Rapper’s Delight, and What is Love, respectively.  These artists were “one-hit wonders.”  They climbed to the top of the music charts once and were never heard from again.

This is not too dissimilar to what happens with many businesses.  They generate one good idea to gain momentum but quickly fall from grace.  What can you do to prevent your organization from becoming a one-hit wonder?  Make sure that your innovation efforts are predictable and sustainable by treating them like any other capability in your company.

Five key components are required for successful long-term innovation capability:

Strategy: A strategy is needed to decide when, where and how innovation will be used within the organization.  Most importantly, it should address “why” you want innovation.

Measures: Innovation, as with any capability, needs to be measurable and measured.

Process: Innovation requires an end-to-end model for targeting, generating, selecting, and implementing innovative solutions.

People: Your people are your culture.  If you want a culture of innovation, your employees must embrace actions, values, beliefs, skills, and language that are consistent with this objective.  Everyone, at all levels, must appreciate divergent points of view.

Technology:  Innovative companies use collaboration tools to enable communication between employees, customers, suppliers, and external experts.

For too long, innovation has been relegated to the darkest recesses of Research and Development (R&D) departments and to the conference rooms of well-meaning brainstormers.  But now is the time to bring innovation to the forefront of your business.  Now is the time to make innovation a capability (but not a department!) with the same level of status as finance, sales, or marketing. Doing this will prevent your innovation efforts from becoming a one-hit wonder.

(please note that these posts are summaries of the actual book content and therefore many details are not included here)