‘Indifference is Death’ when it comes to innovation

by. Jeff Falk

According to late American management consultant, educator, author and businessman Peter Drucker, “Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.”

Even so, as a recent Harvard Business Review blog by Michael Schrage points out, some innovative ideas can create more problems than they solve. In “Three Signs That You Should Kill an Innovative Idea,” Schrage explores three things to watch for when deciding to move forward with an innovation. The signs may indicate it’s better to squash the idea before it comes back to bite you.

The first warning sign Schrage suggests looking for is what he calls “no pleasant surprises.” Essentially, this refers to the absence of unintended positive consequences that should pop up during the developmental stage of an idea. Schrage writes, “If the innovation idea or proposal really represents a novel value creation opportunity, there’ll be serendipities sprinkled amidst the inevitable unpleasantness.” He adds, “Those ‘small wins’ may not look or feel like much but, almost always, they signal new opportunities for exploitation and advance.”

Innovations that are met with a series of challenges and difficulties, with few triumphs, may be dead in the water. Continuous setbacks tend to drain the energy and enthusiasm out of ideas, and as Schrage puts it, “you’ll soon be running on empty.” Financial institution (FI) innovators must also remember that being innovative is not a competitive advantage unless your innovations solve meaningful problems in meaningful ways. Consumers aren’t interested in simply seeing a new or different approach. Real innovation is about offering new ideas and products that make things better and easier for customers.

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