In our experience, there is no shortage of innovative ideas in companies. However, a huge wealth of ideas never gets a chance to be expressed.
Leadership in companies often talks the talk of innovation, but rarely walks the walk. A great example of this comes from the world of PR agencies. We all know that for the last 10 years, the PR agency business has been under a fundamental disruption. One senior manager in one of the largest PR agencies in the world recently told us:
“We often have all-hands meetings where senior management gives a very inspirational speech, about how we must be innovative and deliver new content marketing, and strategic social media solutions to our clients. And then, once the speech is over, we all go back to our cubes and try to get reporters on the phone to get coverage for our clients.”
Companies want their marketers to be innovative—you know, as long as they can prove ROI on that innovative new thing they want to try.
Innovation just isn’t built into the DNA of most larger companies these days. Most middle managers make senior manager by simply operating more efficiently than others in the organization. They sell incrementally more, they convert incrementally better, they hire incrementally better agencies, and achieve incrementally better financial results. This takes absolute discipline and focus, no doubt. But it does not lend itself to a culture of innovation.
As Peter Drucker said back in 1985 in his classic article, “The Discipline of Innovation”:
“Innovation is the specific function of entrepreneurship, whether in an existing business, a publicservice institution or a new venture….”
“Most innovations, especially the successful ones, result from a conscious, purposeful search for innovation opportunities, which are found only in a few situations.”
Every innovative initiative starts with an idea and content-driven experiences are no exception.