Chief Content Officer - July 2011 - (Page 32)
A talk with Tom Koulopoulos, author of The Innovation Zone, about the essential elements of innovation (psst: it’s not about
By Erin Rodat-Savla Innovation is a process, not a product.
Marketing is usually an inherently creative function, but just because you’re creative does not mean you are innovative. “We’re all creative. It’s the essential human condition. The problem is that team dynamics often stifle that creativity,” Tom says. “At the heart of innovation is a culture and commitment to the process of innovating. It’s a numbers game. The more people involved and trying, the more ideas make it through the pipeline. The key, then, is to build the pipeline, a path for all ideas in an organization to be heard and evaluated. Otherwise, incremental innovations never add up to anything more than a series of small changes.” Mind you, because innovation is a process, you can’t replicate it by looking at the end result. (The ‘Fab 15’ featured in this issue may be inspirational, but they won’t give you the keys to innovating at your own company.) “It’s fun to try and show the end state, and it may motivate us to be bolder,” Tom explains; “but innovation is not a mystery novel where you can read ahead.” The message to marketers: Stop worrying about whether you and your team know the latest and greatest tool or are creative enough. Start investing in your team’s ability to filter opportunities and focus on those that have value. How? Do you have systems in place for recognizing and rewarding idea owners? Do you have champions who’ll help give the idea a fair shake? Do you have a consistent place to store and track ideas that might not be ready for prime time? Have you come up with some metric–even if it’s subjective and qualitative–to assess the value of a potential idea? If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions, you’ve got some first steps to consider. (P.S. If you feel like you’re working for a CEO or company who can’t support such a process, Tom says, “High tail it out of there or be forever disappointed to see your good ideas ignored.”)
eel pressured to adopt new marketing technology and call it innovation? Trying to make a splash in the market when the definition of “new and exciting” keeps changing by the month? Tom Koulopoulos, author of The Innovation Zone and founder of Delphi Group, a technology and business advisory group, offers little comfort: “It’s going to get harder to keep up with the pace of all this uncertainty and the innovation it demands of us.” If the word “innovation” makes you cringe, you’re not alone. “We tend to get very critical of innovation talk, in part because we’re surrounded by so many new gadgets and gizmos, let alone the thousands of books and conferences on innovation, we think we must’ve already conquered that mountain.” Or, if we haven’t, we fear there’s something seriously wrong with us–or our company. Here’s where Tom does offer comfort. The problem with much of the innovation conversation, he says, is that it either confounds innovation with invention–those one-off events and products that may or may not generate any actual value–or it implies you need superhuman skills to achieve it. Innovation is more about discipline than divine inspiration, claims Tom. “There is no short-cut or single way to innovation. It takes work, consistency and fortitude.”
Innovation is about changing behavior, not adopting the latest technology.
Innovation changes behavior. Technology and all the trappings
CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Chief Content Officer - July 2011
Chief Content Officer - July 2011
The Fab 15
Rise of the Marketing Technologist
Man of the House
Chief Content Officer - July 2011