Innovation and Sloppy Money.


Many business evolutions these days come from product or service improvement or product or service disruption. Disruption, as a term of art, began as a meme and book title in the ad business. It meant stop consumers in their tracks – challenge the messaging roll, if you will. Then disruption moved on to productization and product development. Charlene Li and Altimeter Group go on about how disruption helps develop and corner new markets.

Whether improving or disrupting, it’s likely you are looking to “innovation” to deliver the goods. Remember the term R&D? Research and development? That was a common business function; a year-over-year line item on the annual budget. Especially for larger companies. The mega companies still have R&D groups or facsimiles hereof but most companies these days find it more economical to seek “new ideas” from hired innovation companies: boutiques, workshop groups and consultants.

Innovation is being outsourced.

At the higher end, these innovation engagements can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. What I call sloppy money. This ain’t agile. You can call Accenture Interactive in to solve your banking problem, but it’s not likely to be any different than the problem that existed in the 70s. Just with an interactive twist. If you must outsource your innovation, it’s best to start with a smaller outside team –a more manageable team. A team with more to gain with a business win. Not an army.

Problem identification is the first deliverable. Sloppy money makes for more problems, not less.