I picked up the April 28, 2008, issue of the Business Week the other day and found that the cover story was an intriguing read around the “Most Innovative Companies.” It listed 25 companies as the most innovative ones for 2008 (a Business Week-Boston Consulting Group ranking). While reading this it occurred to me that we should have a discussion around, what can be termed, the Innovation Imperative. Why do companies need to innovate? Is innovation a luxury that can only be afforded by the darlings of Wall Street to better position themselves vis-à-vis the competition, or is it something that should be a key aspect of any enterprise’s strategic plans?
In the above referenced article, Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com (ranked number 11) was interviewed, who said that in his view “there’s no bad time to innovate.” Interestingly, he also added that “frugality drives innovation.” To me this means that he has placed a challenge before companies to find ways to embark on innovation “when times are good and when times are tough” thus debunking the notion that innovation is a luxury to be availed of only when there are ample available resources.
So how should a company go about identifying resources to dedicate to innovation initiatives? What does it mean to look for a frugal but prudent approach to innovation? How can an enterprise free up resources to make the investment? What is the winning argument for doing so in an economic downturn? I invite you to join in with your views.
P.S. I will return after the annual SAPPHIRE-ASUG 2008 event in May.