I was part of an ‘intimate’ and ‘confidential’ dinner with Innovation Minister Kim Carr last Wednesday night.
The topic was innovation (of course). And it was held for a small group of innovation experts, mostly academics and policy makers. The discussion initially focused on the role of government (as we await the outcomes of Dr Terry Cutler’s National Innovation Review) and was held ‘off the record’ (I was bound to secrecy).
However, I can tell you this…
Innovation is fast becoming the most boring topic on the planet.
At least, that’s my ‘educated’ view. 😉
I sometimes think of myself as an ‘addict’ (addicted to innovation) and that I’ve been told to talk through my addiction as part of my therapy.
Unfortunately, I’ve talked so much and listened to so much talk (call it group therapy) that I fear my addiction might soon be cured. This would be sad, indeed.
The confidential discussion that triggered this rant (I do have an eventual point, if you bear with me) was held as part of a book launch, Measured Success, edited by Peter Cebon of the Melbourne Business School.
The book itself is very informed and successfully highlights the main problems associated with innovation in Australia through case studies and commentary from experts.
In particular (pay close attention now), it makes the critical observation that innovative companies tend to focus either on the technology (the solution to the problem they’re trying to solve) or the market (what the market actually wants and how to reach that market).
It won’t come as a surprise that of the companies profiled those that focused on the market were more likely to be successful than those fixated on the technology.
So, here’s my question?
Why can’t the innovation community heed this observation?
I’m talking about the academics, the policy makers, the advisers and the consultants who have a greater need to generate passion for innovation than anyone else – because it’s their job to feed innovation (or feed off it).
Yet, time and time again the discussion rages on without true private-sector engagement, in a language that the private sector doesn’t use, in a way that would put the most afflicted insomniac into a blissful coma.
Are we too busy talking about the problem to think about the market (let alone engage with it)?
Am I alone on this? Five years ago, the cover story of Anthill’s launch edition asked the question, “Who’s carrying innovation?” Has anything changed? Are we making progress or or are we doomed to spend another five years engaged in verbal masturbation (speaking for our own gratification)?