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    Innovation Theatre – How to Avoid and Unlock Innovation

    Innovation theatre can kill your idea. Learn how to avoid it.

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      Picture of Vaughan Broderick

      Vaughan Broderick

      Have you ever found that sometimes the demonstration of innovation creates more sizzle than the actual impact? Unfortunately, you are not alone, and innovation theatre is all too common.

      Read on to understand more about how to avoid innovation theatre.

      What is Innovation?

      Before we learn more about innovation theatre, having a definition of innovation will help set the measure.

      If we accept that imagination is envisioning what does not exist, that creativity is a process of having valuable ideas.

      Then innovation is the implementation of creative ideas (application of creative ideas)

      What is Innovation theatre?

      Innovation theatre is like a smokescreen, very impressive, but creates no long term value.

      Suppose you think about the essential activities needed for innovation, such as evidencing what customers do, engaging with people, learning from well-designed experiments, adapting products and services, value propositions and business models.

      Then, why do so many great ideas succumb to innovation theatre?

      Where Innovation Theatre Lives

      Surprisingly, innovation theatre can live in the very places that foster innovation – innovation labs or incubators (hubs for business units or teams to access funding, support and guidance).

      Accelerator programmes are often a physical space for various startups to develop their business ideas in preparation for investment.

      Although not exclusively, it appears that corporate programmes are most likely to experience the phenomenon.

      How to Avoid Innovation Theatre

      There are several considerations to avoid this situation:

      • First, understand that corporate innovation requires an eco-system to support the continual development of ideas into new propositions, products and services and business models. There needs to be a portfolio approach to the flow of innovation.
      • Companies should measure the success of innovation programmes by ultimately how the programmes are creating value in the form of revenue and profit for the company. And how the programmes are changing culture towards innovation.
      • Don’t fall in love with the latest technology or shiny new thing.
      • Have clear success criteria based on meaningful actions, such as the number of active users versus downloads (which falls into the category of vanity metrics).

      Have you experienced innovation theatre? Let me know in the comments.