Innovation & Creativity Experts: One Eyed Kings in the Land of the Blind…

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Let me put in a disclaimer first: I am no innovation & creativity expert and firmly believe that innovation needs to be embedded in our thought process in everything we do.

However, I have been involved with and seen quite a few aspects of innovation, creativity etc from close quarters and have interacted with the so called innovation SME’s from the industry quite often.

Few days back, some of my friends were discussing about innovation & role of ‘innovation experts’ and an interesting case of  an ‘self styled, keyboard’ innovation expert came up. She was working as an innovation expert and was responsible for creating an innovation culture within the organization.  It came about that all she did was bitch about how the organization was not ready for innovation & no one listened to her & how that organizations innovation strategy was all wrong, etc.. etc. Now, think of it, she was responsible for doing all this.  If all this was already there and the organization was ready and things were rosy, then why did the organization even need her in the first place 🙂

Friends from that organization mentioned that all she did in that organization was read books, blog, attend conferences, confuse people with theories, use jargon and project herself as an innovation expert. “she was happy talking about innovation rather than helping with/demonstrating innovation” was what people told me.

Here are some of the key points that came out of an intense discussion about these so called/self styled “innovation experts”.

  • Most of the times these innovation experts have NO CLUE to what they are talking about and are far removed from reality/business context
    • The irony is that these experts try to cover this aspect in the name of innovation/creativity to be as blue sky as possible
  • Most of the experts have read a couple of books on innovation etc and then use jargon’s from these books to ‘demonstrate’ their know how as innovation experts
    • In the process these so called innovation experts have become “keyboard” or ‘armchair” experts doling out advice
  • Most of the experts are REAL experts in scanning the internet for news/articles that talk  about innovation and then these ‘keyboard’ innovation experts try and show which technique was used and how a great idea it was
    • Here they refer to books that they have read to justify their theory and techniques used
  • The above 2 (reading books & commenting on techniques used in articles) creates a self fulfilling cycle where the only work these so called ‘innovation experts’ are doing is the above 2
  • Most of these experts have not done ANY innovation in their own domain/work areas. ZILCH is mostly what you will find. All they like to do is “talk” and not “do”. Most of their talking/writing is also almost always about ‘past’ and seldom about future. At best their future talk is very ‘general’ and of very low value

It is also important to mention that there are some great “innovation students” who are not called “innovation experts” but have managed to learn and appreciate about the role of innovation/creativity in their core work area. I know of a couple of such ‘innovation students’ who are very very technically competent and in senior positions and are successfully trying to mesh innovation/creativity into their every day work and things they do.

My money on furthering the cause of innovation lies in such ‘students’ rather than the  ‘experts’… These experts are nothing but the One Eyed Kings in the Land of the Blind…

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