Stop the Nonsense! Innovation is a Discipline.

By Jay Rao

For most firms, innovation is more a slogan or aspiration than a managed practice. Below, Jay Rao shows that for the best companies, innovation is a set of practices and attitudes built into daily work and long-term thinking, and argues that organisations should start treating innovation as a real discipline.

Have you noticed how the word “innovation” has crept into CEO speeches, consultant presentations, marketing material and the media? There’s no escaping the overuse and misuse of the “i-word” these days. Companies mentioned it 33,528 times in their 2012 official reports, a 64% increase from 2006. A study of 260 Global executives revealed that 40% of them had a Chief Innovation Officer; and for most, such titles were mainly “for appearances.” These same executives conceded that they didn’t have a clear innovation strategy to support the role.1

Regrettably, as it stands today, for most firms innovation is more a slogan or aspiration than a managed practice. I find myself in front of 1,000-plus executives and managers each year, and I ask them the same question: “How many of you are tired of hearing the word innovation?” Many hands go up. When asked why, the responses are predictable:

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