Companies need innovators like babies need love

About 8 years ago the e-commerce revolution was in full swing. It was after the dot com boom had become a distant memory and all producers were attracted by the quick win of awesome margins online. Obviously Apple was doing it successfully so everybody wanted a piece of the cake.
When we got the order to build a webstore in the Nordics to sell directly to the consumers we were quite shocked. Yes on a top management level this seemed like a good idea but out in the sales field we were totally depended on our retailers and distributors and getting on their wrong side was out of the question. So we kicked back against the corporate head office and because we were big mouths they relented and told us to build an alternative to their strategy.

We innovated.

We had a very strong brand and decided to funnel the consumers from our website to that of our retailers so that they in turn placed larger orders with distributors. Everybody was happy as the e-commerce solution produced more sales which was in everybody’s interest.

Suffice it to say it did not last long.

A small regional sales office cannot really wag its tail against a corporate office who build global strategy and subsequently we were told to shut down. We did and implemented global policy. This turned out to be a complete disaster and 5 years down the line most of the local sales offices direct e-commerce ventures have been shut down.

The point is its difficult to innovate in a big organization.

Firstly the innovators in an organization are tended to be seen as a bit of loonies who have difficulty toeing the line. Yes organisations need their energy and optimism but its very difficult to have them focus on what the companies want. Another negative is that innovators are not good at listening and they generally tend to believe they are right. But that’s an HR question.
Its with this in mind that I discovered this article on Innovation Excellence blog

Even You Can Innovate to Grow – Learn from Skanska by Adam Hartung @adam_hartung


At first I was going to analyse his post but then I thought the better of it. Read it for yourself and be inspired. Companies need innovators like babies need love. And the really good companies internalize innovation to be part of their culture like fresh air is part of the Nordics. After all if Skanska can buck the trend of a bad economy then most companies should be able to.