BlueCallom is officially a year old now. In the past three years, before we started, we learned so much from neuroscience that it turned our perspective of innovation upside down. In 2021 we hosted several Innovation Thought Leader Roundtable events and learned about how innovation is done in most enterprises today. We learned about the struggle to be more innovative and heard from many that the lack of innovation culture is a considerable challenge. Also, in 2021 we completed our first version of BlueCallom DEEP, our cloud-based neuro innovation management solution, and conducted our first Deep Innovation Design training. BlueCallom has released two critical white papers: “Innovation is a CEO Mandate” and “Innovation Master Plan.” Now it is time we look at the innovation outlook for 2022.
From randomness to strategic innovation
One of the biggest frustration for CEOs is the random experimentation with no results. The fact that all enterprises have the same challenge doesn’t set anybody apart. But that is the goal for several enterprises for 2022. Most innovation centers today end 2021 with several improvements but no genuine innovation. While almost all of today’s innovation methods help manage ideas to get to the prototype stage, non have reached the market. In a few cases, it did but died within a few months. It’s time to get strategic. There are 800 unicorns, bolstered with a billion $ or more, ready to disrupt whatever market they are looking at. One CEO asked, “Why did I never see a unicorn in the making? I saw hundreds of startups, but most didn’t make it.” An excellent question. We answered: “Because you saw only those who ran around from startup event to startup event, trying to raise capital.” A unicorn is far more strategic than most people think. They are relentless executors, have brilliant talents, and run faster than any other business. Many enterprise leaders have yet to learn what it takes to bring innovation successfully to the market. But there are several who just now do that – with a dedicated innovation development strategy.
From improvement to genuine innovation
Another early shift we saw for 2021 is that enterprises realize that improvement is not innovation. Improvement has been made for 200 years in every R&D center. Some enterprises have already learned the hard way: an R&D center is not an innovation space and cannot be just “tasked” to be done. Using improvement as a step-by-step path to innovation is like a sailor using a lake to prepare for circumnavigation. One major force to make a clear decision to engage in innovation is the CEO. Without a clear direction from the CEO, innovation cannot happen in any enterprise. That shift to genuine innovation bares the question, “Should that innovation center remains a department, be a business unit, or even a separate company?” The trend is already seen by companies like Kärcher who separated the innovation activities into a legally separate unit which is still owned by the mothership. There is a slew of advantages included above and beyond the risk mitigation. Those separate units don’t have to be integrated into the massive bureaucracy of the main enterprise, they may have different legal contract frameworks and more.
From Students to top-level teams with exceptional cognitive abilities
Another interesting trend comes actually from the innovation consultant space. Very often, students had been hired to innovate for a company. The task was simple, “find a great idea”. It has been that way for quite some time because innovation was associated with a brilliant idea. Only now do we understand that a brilliant idea is always coming from solving an existing or in the future envisioned problem. Today we know that a human is producing thousands of ideas every year. We are even drowning in ideas. Ideas are of no value. Solving a problem is a hard and complex task and the solution may be considered a brilliant idea. When Elon Mask hires people, he still focuses on people with exceptional abilities. When Amazon employs people, they spend more time on soft skills than hard skills. The search for people with exceptional cognitive abilities for the innovation job is on the run. Several software companies emerged from this trend, like Pymetrics, which exclusively focuses on a hiring process for those soft skills.
In the past two corona years, businesses of all sizes learned to be far more agile or suffer enormously, if not pushed out of business. Innovation has shown its positive effect on some companies where it resulted in innovation efforts that brought even significant improvements to the market capitalization on the stock exchange. We see even a trend of amplification in innovation efforts as the past growth also encouraged investors and the capital market.
In 2022, we will see
- More enterprises investing in intelligent and strategic innovation, away from random experimentation.
- More explicit use of the term innovation by refraining from using “gradual innovation” as an excuse.
- A big challenge is finding talents with innovation-related soft skills.
- A surge in upskilling teams to gain innovative thinking and become more entrepreneurial.
- Finally, by the end of 2022, we may see some significant innovations created by enterprises.
We, the BlueCallom team, wish you all a happy, healthy, and innovative 2022.