Corporate innovation needs a simpler approach

I’ve been lucky enough to work in some very high-performing organizations, from Apple to Gap to Victoria’s Secret to Ahold, the Dutch grocer. One dynamic I’ve observed again and again, as companies try to put in place structures and processes to make new things happen: complexity is Public Enemy #1 when it comes to innovation. You may have the budget. You may have the CEO’s explicit support. But when things are too complex, innovation initiatives die.

Complexity thwarts innovation

It’s easy to place blame when an innovation program doesn’t bear fruit. There are too many people involved, or silos in the organization that don’t interact well. Resources and capital are too difficult to acquire. These impediments to innovation are created by people. Guess what? That is all of us — we are the corporate culture.

One way to change this culture is to develop a simple innovation platform. This requires minimizing the process and approvals that surround innovation, and finding the right people in the organization who support this approach.

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