Arcus Innovation Institute: Innovation Methodology, for ideas that matter – Why innovate now? Creativity is essentially a muscle that, with enough exercise, anyone can develop. Although we like to believe we know what is going on in our brains, we know almost nothing about what is going on inside them. We’re not only blind to certain things, but we’re blind to the fact that we’re blind to them. Contact the Arcus Innovation Institute, +1 (416) 335-8000 or email
The traditional consulting firms have talked and advised about innovating for years, but the advice was usually that it was dangerous for a large company to innovate from within. The mantra was: ‘When you want new ideas, buy them. Find a small company and acquire it.’
Why is an Innovation Methodology important?
Corporations both rise and die faster than ever today, placing a premium on the speedy generation of ideas. The dot-com boom accelerated the process. In the late ’90s, people started to say strategy is not about stability, it’s about change.
In Box 1, we put everything a company now does to manage and improve performance. Box 2 is labelled “selectively forgetting the past,” our way of urging clients to avoid fighting competitors and following trends that are no longer relevant. Box 3 is strategic thinking about the future. Companies spend all of their time in Box 1, and think they are doing strategy. But strategy is really about Box 2 and 3 — the challenge to create the future that will exist in 2020.” Arcus recommends what we call the 30-30 rule: 30 percent of the people who make strategic decisions should be those who are are not vested in the past. The executives who have been there a long time grew up in Box 1. You need to challenge voices in the room that are vested in the past.
Think of Netflix, which reinvented the way videos are rented and crushed Blockbuster. There are plenty of suggestions for avoiding the fate of the disruptees; for instance, innovative corporations have walled off a division that is built to think creatively and is small enough to be excited by small profits.
Advances in technology over the past three decades have gradually forced management to re-conceive its role in the corporation, shifting its focus from processing data to something more esoteric. The days when a manager at, say, the Gap could earn a bow just for knowing how many sweaters to ship to Seattle are over. When that happens, what is the role of the manager?
It is about something else. Suddenly it’s about leadership, creativity, vision. Those are the differentiating things. Here is an analogy to painting, which for centuries was all about rendering reality as accurately as possible, until a new technology — photography — showed up, throwing all those brush-wielding artists into crisis. Then painters said: ‘Well, wait, you can tell what is but you can’t tell me my impression of what is. The Cubists said, ‘you can’t capture what is going on from multiple angles’. Technology forced painters to re-evaluate, which transformed their work. Something similar has happened in corporate America. Arcus is in the abstract-expressionist era of management.
Arcus Innovation Series
The Arcus Innovation Series is based on in-depth interviews with over 1500 senior executives from organizations like Siemens, Unilever, Domtar, Canada Foundation for Innovation and Maple Leaf Foods. They argue that leadership is about having a vision for innovation and creating a framework for action around the vision to allow partners and employees to pioneer new ways of working.
Contact Arcus to find out how to benchmark your innovation strategy:
- A presentation on best practices from 1500 companies
- A culture change audit
- An innovation workshop
- An innovation strategy