This satirical piece takes square aim at the ‘innovation theater’ many companies put in place to look like they are innovating when, in fact, nothing innovative is happening. It is written, tongue in cheek, as a legitimate list of things a company can do to be more innovative. An example entry:
Launch an accelerator – You know you’re going to be disrupted, so what says you’re taking this seriously? Paying a vendor to set up an accelerator for you and giving $50k to 10 early-stage startups that are pre-product and pre-traction. Nothing says you’re serious about protecting your multi-billion dollar revenue like dropping $500k on 10 startups that your corporation isn’t suited to work with.
The subversive aspect of this piece is that each of the 19 things listed are things that companies actually do. If they are done well (not the way they are described in the article), they actually can contribute to an effective innovation system (well, perhaps not the Stage-Gate one).
The key point of this list is that true innovation competency is so much more than the superficial sheen that these activities can convey. It’s not the type of activity itself that is the problem, it’s whether or not the activity is used to further an underlying system based on real innovative. If these activities have nothing underneath, then they are indeed just theater but if they have a true innovation foundation, then they can add value.