Innovation – Forget the hype. What exactly does this look like for your business?

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), innovation appears to be the dominant ideology at the moment – and especially for those businesses wrangling with digital technologies in their attempts to remain competitive.

Whether Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘Ideas Boom’,  U.S. White House or China’s President Xi – we are all being led to believe that innovation and disruption will help transform business by creating new opportunities for business and individuals alike, raise living standards as well as enrich the economy.  At a more local level and on the conference circuit, IT industry and business conferences appear to have ‘innovation’ as a permanent topic.

Question is: Is the current innovation mantra what it appears to be? Unfortunately, emerging evidence is questioning the assumption that it will universally deliver the goodies.  This has implications for businesses embarking on innovation initiatives.


The acronym FoMO describes the Fear of Missing Out – that very real phenomenon that describes how we just don’t like being left out.  FoMO applies equally to individuals and businesses.

More pointedly, FoMO is a useful tool for sales and marketing to drive consumer and customer behaviours. FoMO is evident across a diverse range of industries and applications whether consumer technology (kilometre long queues for the latest SmartPhone), tech startups (in pitching to investors), or good old fashioned driving up sales for existing products and services.

Fact is, FoMO is alive and well in the current innovation discourse.

While established businesses may use innovation in challenging their own status quo – the fact remains: it is challenging and can be risky.

The overemphasis of the perceived benefits1 over risks or downsides of disruption and innovation can have serious consequences for society, economies, industries and individual organisations alike.  This effect is especially relevant when FoMO fuels perceptions that the short term benefits appear to outweigh any future risks.

Case in point being the near collapse of the financial world in the late 2000s (colloquially termed the GFC). The GFC had its origins in innovation, namely the unbridled development of complex, opaque financial transactions. The rest, as they say, is history.

Aside from the rare stand-out global disruptors (We all know who they are as they are continually mentioned ad-nauseum), there is also increasing shareholder scepticism over the value of digital innovations. Additionally, there are a number of respected  independent observers who offer excellent insights and perspectives into the prevailing innovation paradigm2, especially in relation to digital technologies.

Innovative start-ups: Are you a player or being played?

While established organisations come to grips with  building this capability within their own organisations, what about the fast moving world of digital start-ups?

For those seeking start-up El Dorado – whether in Silicon Valley, or elsewhere – must have a clear understanding of the drivers behind venture capital and the promise of the IPO in the longer term.

Three cheers for the maintainers

In the real (mostly, physical) world, how does the innovation mantra play out in the delivery of important products and services on which our businesses and lives depend?

There is nothing sexy or appealing about routine products and services.  The only time they hit the news is when there is a disaster or problem. Bottom line is that innovation, disruption or start-ups (Yep – this article also is discussing it) trumps boring – so recognising this influence is key to balancing the perception of innovation’s usefulness or sustainable value.

Fact remains that any successful innovator (company or individual) will tell you that organisations still need their internal ‘maintainers’.

These are the people that are involved in the less glamorous work of keep organisations and systems running efficiently, and more importantly, customers happy.  If this ‘maintaining’ work is devalued, innovative ideas and organisations will not achieve their full potential.

.. however, you cannot (and should not) stop innovation

Provided business leaders, and individuals alike consider the overall context, intrinsic value and pitfalls of innovation, it will continue to improve prospects for individuals and organisations alike.

Just need to pay attention to the risks to others.

Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell – professors of technology and innovation at the Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ, U.S.) cite crack cocaine as en excellent example of innovation.  It also “involved a great deal of entrepreneurship (called ‘dealing’) and generated lots of revenue.”

Key message here is to keep a constant eye on the broader context and impacts of your innovation initiatives.

1 Sjoerd Bakker & Björn Budde (2012) “Technological hype and disappointment: lessons from the hydrogen and fuel cell case”, Technology  Analysis & Strategic Management, 24:6, 549-563
2 Stephen Fox, (2012),”Getting real about innovations”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 5 Iss 1 pp. 86 – 104

SLA redefined for real results: Strategy, Leadership and Adaptability?

The SLA (Service Level Agreement) underpins vendor supply  arrangements.

In a predictable world, SLAs make good sense.   You just want your suppliers to live up to their agreed commitments. With good justification. One would hope that the SLAs relating to airline safety are  adhered to next time you fly.

So, …

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Adapting for success: Efficiency, innovation or both?

Question: How do established organisations ‘Innovate’?   The answer is, for the most part, – ‘With Difficulty’

To successfully innovate within established organisations is no trivial task,  made more challenging where innovation has never been part of the organisation’s culture or strategy.

Innovation means different things to different people, and is …

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Leadership gaps in the new world of Digital and IT

Why are some organisations able to remain innovative, successful, viable and adaptable despite all that gets thrown at them?  Simply put, it all comes down to leadership capability.

That new and innovative digital technologies continue to disrupt and reshape industries and organisations is old news.

What is news is …

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Cybersecurity balancing act: Digitising your business in the face of uncertainty

As organisations face the inevitability of ‘digitisation’, the challenge of ensuring effective cybersecurity protections for your business is not becoming any easier.

The messages being sent by a range of global consulting, analyst and technology vendor organisations – not to mention regulatory and government agencies – are consistent and increasingly …

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Internet of Things – IoT Cybersecurity challenge. Now, it’s all child’s play.

Now that we are able to connect various physical devices ‘smartly’,  this additional capability is further fuelling the rate of technological change. As with any technological evolution, the benefits also carry with them some risks.  In this instance the cyber risks associated with the IoT are very real.  These take …

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Can your business transformation succeed without IT’s involvement?

When does business improvement or business transformation become an ‘innovation’?  Who cares, really?   It’s business outcomes that matter.

Whether labelled as ‘business transformation’, ‘re-engineering’, ‘improvement’ or   Innovation – the bottom line is that implementing organisational change is easy to say and hard  – especially those that have been around for …

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Your Cloud and the US ‘ safe harbor ‘ provision. Not so ‘safe’?


Why are the long standing US safe harbor privacy data jurisdiction provisions now suddenly ‘not-so-safe harbour’ provisions?

Mr Max Schrems, an Austrian national and digital activist was concerned that Facebook could not guarantee his privacy as his personal data was located  in the U.S.

He lodged his complaint to …

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It’s showtime for IT leadership training .

IT Leaders are the new kids on the block.  The exceptional expansion of modern information and digital technologies within and across organisations has occurred within the last two decades.  Not surprising that many IT leadership training and development courses are failing to deliver sustainable business results.

In the ‘new’ world …

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Who is responsible for digital strategy in your business? Think again….

That digital technologies have and will continue to unleash disruptive changes on the commercial, regulatory and social landscapes is nothing new. Fact is, within established organisations, defining exactly who is responsible for digital strategy for the business is not clear cut.

Ensuring that your business remains relevant in the face …

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How resilience underpins sustainable business value


Question: Why is resilience so important at every level of organisation?

Answer: Because change impacts every level of the organisation and is becoming increasingly volatile and unpredictable.

Why sustainable value hinges on versatility and resilience.

That organisations and employees (careers) alike are increasingly being impacted by the competitive forces …

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Seeing past ‘IT – business alignment’ to realise your innovation goals


Consider the following questions: Can you see past ‘IT – business alignment’ to realise your organisation’s innovation goals? To what extent are innovation and INtrepreneurship (not to be confused with entrepreneurship) in evidence across your organisation? What are the value drivers and how are these identified and defined? Has …

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Protect your income potential by treating your career as YOUR business

Libraries are filled with books on topics such as job, income and career planning, finding that perfect job, job transition strategies, stress management and coping with the demands of the workplace.

Few, if any focus specifically on the individual’s career in the context of the current and future powerful and …

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IT Benchmarking challenges – 6 Questions to consider

How do you develop a business relevant benchmark in a rapidly evolving environment? More importantly, have the key IT Benchmarking challenges been identified and adequately covered?

The adoption of industry ‘best practice’ makes good commercial and business sense is it harvests the cumulative learning of others – specifically, what produced …

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The challenges organisations face in dealing with rapidly changing technology.

Keeping businesses relevant in today’s volatile and globally hyper-connected world, where the technology fuelled disruption of entire markets and industries alike, presents a real and ongoing challenge for business leaders.

The simultaneous impacts of factors such as the speed of technology-induced change and globalisation further accelerate these changes.

Established organisations …

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