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What's the Purpose of Your Innovation Efforts?

As per CBInsights survey of 677 leaders across sectors in multiple geographies ( 49.5% in Americas, 37.6% EMEA and 12.9% in APAC)

1. 84.9% rate innovation is most important for their organization

2. 41% of executives said their companies are extremely at risk or very at risk of disruption

3. Despite the importance attached, 78% of innovation portfolios are focussed on iterating and improving status quo rather than disruptive risk

It begs the question, why don't organizations innovate more often and successfully? I find Simon Sinek provides the answer; narrowly defined purpose. Most organization's fail to define a purpose, they come out with vision and mission statements that are very narrow and serve only the existing business.

As a result, all stakeholders can think of only incremental changes. CCD has been in the news for the sad and untimely death of its founder. He has been called all things and among them an innovator. However, look at the vision as captured by the "What we stand for" statement in their website: Our mission is a simple one. To be the best Cafe chain by offering a world class coffee experience at affordable prices.

How does such an organization innovate? I believe that organization's will only be able to innovate if they can set a purpose that can guide innovation. If a car company sets up a vision statement that says we build cars and create experiences, every effort will be in that direction. You will get incremental innovation built around the concept of a car. However, if the purpose or vision read shaping mobility for generations to come (as Volkswagen states) you have a much better chance of a breakthrough innovation.

This is one of the biggest reasons large organizations are failing to innovate; they are constrained by their own vision. On the other hand startups have no such limitations, they start from an open slate and are able to come up with innovations. To them I say, define a rallying purpose, you will attract not only customers but great many employees. And you will disrupt the world.

Krishnan Naganathan

Krishnan is a consultant with more than 25 years of experience. His purpose is to help India and it's entrepreneurs be global leaders in innovation


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