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54% of CEOs Dissatisfied With Innovation

CowboyNeal posted about 7 years ago | from the bang-for-the-buck dept.

Businesses 210

athloi writes "Invention is new and clever; innovation is a process that takes knowledge and uses it to get a payback. Invention without a financial return is just an expense. Ideas are really the sexy part of innovation and there's rarely a shortage of them. If you look at the biggest problems around innovation, rarely does a lack of ideas come up as one of the top obstacles; instead, it's things like a risk-averse culture, overly lengthy development times and lack of coordination within the company. Not enough ideas, on the other hand, is an obstacle for only 17 percent. At the end of the day all that creativity and all those ideas have to show on the bottom line. The goal of innovation is to make or save money, and IT should never lose sight of that central fact."

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97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433807)

Seriously.

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (2, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 7 years ago | (#20433825)

Agreed. Guess what? Not every idea will turn into a short-term, high-return product/service/etc. CXO positions (I know, I generalize here) rarely understand this. The days of real R&D (Bell Labs anyone) are long gone.

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (1)

smack.addict (116174) | about 7 years ago | (#20433889)

Bell Labs was run by whom?

Oh yeah, a monopolist with absurd margins.

Only businesses with insane margins can afford dedicated R&D like Bell Labs. For most companies, R&D is a luxury.

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (2, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | about 7 years ago | (#20433929)

Working in the R&D labs of a baby-Bell, we get told this all the time (i.e. innovation without monetary benefit is meaningless).

We still get to do cool stuff and every once in a while, we have something that gets monetized. But for the most part, we work on cool stuff and the demos keep the management happy.

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 7 years ago | (#20433937)

"Absurd" is subjective, but I agree in principle. Microsoft has it's MS Research group. Google does a large amount of research (although it's restricted to the data organization/search space). Both companies have huge margins according to their SEC filings. So what's wrong with that? My problem is with CEOs that demand innovation with small R&D budgets. It doesn't happen. Innovation/R&D is a "try and fail" method, thereby causing it to cost a lot. If you don't have the margins to do R&D, don't bitch when there aren't results fast enough.

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 7 years ago | (#20434255)

Do they really?

From my experience, in a lot of companies, they just don't want to innovate.

Doing the exact same thing with a computer application instead of a typewritten form isn't innovation. I'm sorry, it just isn't. An optimization that doesn't change the process at all, isn't it. Innovation is when you figure that you can turn the process upside down, and do things like they _weren't_ done before. When Ford figured out he'd use an assembly line instead of the old fashioned way, that was innovation. If Ford had just hired a faster courier boy to carry the forms from one beancounter to another (which is what a lot of computer apps really are today: just a faster way to do the exact same thing with the same people), that would be at most a straightforward optimization.

But when you want to shake up the process, you run into a lot of managers and egos which would be displaced by the new version. And there in a lot of places is where it fails. Try explaining to someone that his function will lose some power or prestige when your cool new system goes online, and see what kind of disproportionate resources he'll mobilize against it. Or try explaining to an old dog that he must learn new tricks, and see real resistance in action.

Remember, a lot of these are guys who know how to backstab, brownnose or make backroom deals, when they need to. In a lot of cases that's the only skill that got them there in the first place. If you think they'll just bend over and take it just because a techie figured out how to displace them, you may be surprised.

So what will happen in a lot of places is that they don't really want innovation. They want to keep their power and influence intact, and keep doing things like they were always done. With a computer, maybe, but nevertheless in the exact same way.

If the old process required that a form doesn't even have a registration number before a beancounter uses his stamp to give it one, don't be surprised if the requirement for the computer version says the record may not have an ID until the beancounter gives it one. That's his "power" there: he's the guy (or the boss of the guy) who gives registration numbers. He's not going to give that up. (Don't laugh, I've actually been in a team which implemented exactly that. We actually had a hidden unique ID, while the one assigned by the beancounter was only for display purposes.)

That's not innovation.

The budget is an excuse there. In a lot of places, the budget isn't even really calculated as in "what can we get for how much money", but a function of:

- corporate politics and petty wars and power grabs between heads of departments

- the product of some inflexible regulations (e.g., if in the last year you used only X dollars, you automatically get that. Whether there's actually an ROI in it or not. And a lot goes into _waste_, not R&R, because a penny saved is a penny cut next from your budget next year.)

- the result of some new boss pissing on everything to mark his territory (e.g., he'll show everyone who's boss by pointless half-baked restructuring games and budget reorganization, not because he actually studied what needs to be done with that money, but just to mark his new territory.) This goes especially well with the previous situation.

Etc.

Note that in the above I've said "many" or "a lot", but not "all". Yeah, there still are sane places. On the other hand, like Scot Adams put it recently, we seem to have harnessed the power of stupidity: at any given time, 90% of society's resources are pushed off a cliff by morons. It makes one wonder.

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#20434613)

These places are the dinosaurs. They get eaten.
 

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (1)

yada21 (1042762) | about 7 years ago | (#20434755)

In conventionel ecconomic theory's they do. But the difference between theory and practice is that in theory, they're the same and in practice they arent.

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434771)

These places are the dinosaurs. They get eaten.

Sometimes they do, but when you are talking about public utility and infrastructure companies that have so much money, power (money), political clout (money) and high barriers to entry (built with public money) they aren't subject to market forces.

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (1)

Marnhinn (310256) | about 7 years ago | (#20434759)

While I'd agree with most of what you said, I think it has more to do with how business units see the IT side of their business.

In many companies, IT is used to build tools to support pre-existing processes and not recommend changes to the processes. (This is generally a good thing, as it requires the business folks to provide IT with requirements and details of how they want IT to support said processes.) However, this often delegates IT to a supporting role, one that is used to provide stability and minor enhancements rather than radical new changes (which could dramatically improve the process).

Also, another issue (on which you touch briefly) is IT investment. Many companies invest only in IT when they are flush with cash and things are going well. As soon as the company hits a tough spot, IT becomes seen as a liability or a cost. This prevents IT from being as innovative as it could be because it is not always receiving steady investment, and when it is, IT is often on the critical path of a project or a developing process and does not have the time or ability to support new changes to the project / process.

I've seen some changes in this area by several major corporations in an effort to make IT more of a leading role and in order to give IT more of an innovative role. They are doing the following:

1. Stabilizing IT investment.
2. Taking IT investment and work off the critical path of projects. This allows IT to examine the project and process and suggest improvements.
3. Making IT partial owners of any process which it supports. This gives IT a say in how things will be run (by providing them with some power to counteract the business side).
5. Lastly, by implementing company wide kaizen strategies (kaizen is Toyota's version of process improvement). This allows IT to present strategies and improvements to upper management that would be innovative under some sort of corporate strategy / umbrella.

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433831)

right on...
apple xerox penpoint etc etc etc mod up

Yo dilbert - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433963)

Many innovators become CEO's/CXO's themselves. Why work for the "man" if you're smarter than he is? Perhaps you should try it and see if you're really innovating or just pretending.

CEO's Want Something For Nothing (3, Insightful)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 7 years ago | (#20434155)

No budget to work with. Few quality (i.e. expensive) employees. No wonder they are dissatisfied with innovation.

If they want innovation, they need to understand not all ideas pay out. It's not unlike venture capital - it takes money to make money and not everything hits paydirt.

As long as CEOs keep wanting to do this crap on the cheap, they will be dissatisfied with the results.

Re:CEO's Want Something For Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434207)

It is ridiculous to give a percentage for "not enough ideas". The amazing thing about new ideas is that you can't know you're missing out on a great idea - it hasn't been had.
The only type of idea you can know you're missing is a solution to a given problem that you've already identified.

Re:CEO's Want Something For Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434875)

In baseball, you're a hero if you have a .300 batting average. That's 30% -- equal to a severely failing grade in school. "Good" players... you know, the ones that make mere millions each year, have a .250 batting average. If corporations relented and decided they were happy with 30% success with R&D projects, perhaps this story would be different. Instead, the story talks of complaints that most/all swings don't result in home runs.

Re:97% of Innovators Dissastisfied with CEOs (2, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | about 7 years ago | (#20434923)

Following upon that, it is said that 90% of business fail in the first year. Clearly engaging in business and is just an expense/cost center, so stop founding businesses.

How many new products fail? Look at Zune, and look at the iPod. Apple NAILED the dedicated portal media player with the iPod by giving it an excellent UI and GUI, (limited) cross-platform compatibility, and released a storefront/download/media management suite which not only adheres to quasi-open, de-facto standards such as MP3, but incorporated for its DRM a downright _reasonable_ copy protection scheme which really does block only casual "piracy," but does not really infringe upon wholly legitimate Fair Use in any way.

What did Microsoft do? They sunk hundreds of millions into the Zune (product development, production, marketing, etc) and ships it, leaving it up to users to discover that not only does it not work well with the established product leader, it does not work well with Windows Media Player, and also does not work with the widely-adopted "Plays For Sure" scheme that Microsoft previously shoved down customers' throats, forcing Zune customers to re-purchase content they already paid for and legally own, because breaking DRM and transcoding it to the Zune's format is beyond Joe Sixpack's ability. As a result the Zune flopped in the market. It's still languishing to this day. A friend working at an electronics retailer claims that the small chain sold only TWO Zunes as of June (I haven't asked him since - he was so amused by the fiasco he'd periodically bring it up in conversation), and are stuck with several hundred in stock.

My point? Products can and do flop. Some may flop because the idea came too soon, some because it was not implemented well, some because the price was too high, others because of lack of consumer awareness, and others because they are simply bad ideas. Zune failed because it was bad idea, a poor implementation, AND the price was/is too steep. Had Microsoft opened their standard just a tad, supported PlaysForSure, and supported cross-platform interoperability, then Apple may have had something to worry about.

Oh, there are other reasons products fail. Some due to reliability, some due to supply issues, and yet others due to outright poor timing and a stressed economy plus availability of better alternatives (cue cat for example).

It's no surprise to me (5, Insightful)

swamp boy (151038) | about 7 years ago | (#20433833)

This is no surprise to me. In my company (name withheld), innovation is given lip service only. New ideas are frowned upon and generally rebutted with "that's not the way we do things around here" or the cynicism of "they would never go for that". I believe that the IT management in my company only does what makes them look good for their own personal gain (promotion, bonuses, etc.) and see very little evidence of pushing things that will help the company (and our customers). If it's not a "safe" solution (Sun, IBM, or "blessed" by Gartner), then it's not something to be taken seriously.

Re:It's no surprise to me (5, Insightful)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | about 7 years ago | (#20434071)

Ideas are - in some ways - the easy part. You also have to
  • Make the ideas work within the existing framework.
  • Show how to move from the old method to the new method.
  • Convince people it's to their benefit.
Many innovators lack the above skills. They think that once they've performed some "innovation" their job is over, and thus get extremely frustrated when it's subsequently (and predictably) ignored, saying things like "innovation is given lip service". Of course, to make the above work, the researcher would have to get down and dirty and actually talk to the end users to find out about the real world.

Re:It's no surprise to me (1)

sane? (179855) | about 7 years ago | (#20434919)

Or to look at it from another direction, the actual creative part of the process, coming up with new ideas, works well. However when it comes to MBA types getting their head out of their arse for more than two seconds at a time, if all falls down. Somehow its supposed to be the responsibility of the person who came up with the idea to force the uptake of it through, against opposition from those same MBAs, and to receive nothing from it at the end of the process if they happen to be successful.

You want the 'innovator' to make all the running when others on higher salaries do nothing? Well, its a minimum of 10% of the profits from the IP for the next 20 years. Otherwise there is no point. You want to keep that 10%? Force the MBAs to be something more than rote paper pushers - make them earn their percentage of the spoils.

Re:It's no surprise to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434975)

I agree those are important, but this is where management should be stepping up. This is like saying it's not good enough to have mastered the technical side of engineering, one must also have a deep understanding of the customer and be able to sell to them; be adept at project management, and in presenting to upper management; represent the company in the community via volunteer work, etc. That would be ideal, but you don't often find the complete package in one person. Management should recognize the opportunities, evaluate them, and allocate resources to the promising ones.

Re:It's no surprise to me (3, Interesting)

glueball (232492) | about 7 years ago | (#20434131)

If it's not a "safe" solution (Sun, IBM, or "blessed" by Gartner), then it's not something to be taken seriously.

No, it will be taken and weighed against the vendors. How one presents an idea to management will likely be what is not taken seriously.

Sun, IBM, etc all have solutions and they work. They are packaged, supported, planned, installed, warranted, and documented. How do you present your stellar ideas to management? In a dusty old computer that reeks of "homebuilt", a cheesy black and white Powerpoint presentation, no plan for failure, no support structure, no redundancy, no analysis (as in a real B-school style analysis) of cost structure and other lost opportunity to compare your idea to a professional idea?

This is what I see when a brilliant idea comes out of IT. Half baked, kool-aid drinking engineers reapplying another bug ridden Linux tool convinced that their idea is the best simply because they conjured it themselves and on the face it seems cheaper.

Spend a few minutes and package your idea. Bell Labs developed ideas well because they thought them through obsessively and not because they were presented and accepted at the half-baked stage of development.

I'm not saying that half baked ideas are bad. Not at all. It's simply that a half baked idea cannot be evaluated well against a fully supported (vendor) idea. In a fear-driven shareholder environment, a well thought out plan of a good idea trumps a crappy brilliant idea every time.

Re:It's no surprise to me (1)

russellh (547685) | about 7 years ago | (#20434153)

Right. The chief problem is that innovation has to be seen, so you need the space and the freedom to actually do new things. Talking about innovation convinces nobody but those with an innovative or visionary personality already. Others have said it better, but innovation usually happens best in the form of a new upstart enterprise, rather than within an existing structure, so innovation needs lots of startups. I actually wish corporations could more easily be structured like a movie production, where you orient around a specific project and bring in talent for all the different departments, then disband when the project is done. Startups are a bit like that, CEO=director, VC=producer for funding agency (studio) except that they are forced to create an entity that is supposed to either live some kind of long life and pursue a market/product expansion strategy or sell and be absorbed into a larger entity.

Re:It's no surprise to me (1)

Original Replica (908688) | about 7 years ago | (#20434577)

"that's not the way we do things around here"

I came across the mother of all "that's just how we have always done it" stories the other day.

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.
Why was that gauge used?
Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads.
Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
Why did "they" use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel! spacing.
Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads?
Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.
And the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.
The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. And bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a spec and told we have always done it that way and wonder what horse's ass came up with that, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.
Now the twist to the story...
When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.
So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a Horse's ass. http://www.manbottle.com/humor/railroads_to_space_ shuttles [manbottle.com]

Re:It's no surprise to me (1)

yada21 (1042762) | about 7 years ago | (#20434813)

Nice story, pity it's total BS [snopes.com] .

Re:It's no surprise to me (1)

achacha (139424) | about 7 years ago | (#20434939)

The QWERTY keyboard is a real example, it was done that way to keep the mechanical typewriters from jamming by effectively slowing you down.

It seems to me (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | about 7 years ago | (#20433837)

That the two are inexorably linked. Innovation without invention id what exactly? The problem is that most of the CEOs that are complaining, cannot see past their 13 week (quarter) window. The real problem is there is no long term research that will lead to innovation.

Re:It seems to me (1)

lottameez (816335) | about 7 years ago | (#20434023)

I know quite a few CEO's and I don't know any that are as shortsighted as you say. It's generally the board/investors that are looking for the quicker turnaround, but even they will be patient if a plan is laid out and you make your benchmarks along the way. If this wasn't true it wouldn't be as easy as it is to get venture money for ideas.

Shit World 2007 (5, Insightful)

conner_bw (120497) | about 7 years ago | (#20433841)

The goal of innovation is to make or save money

As is the goal of fucking to have babies, as is the goal of eating to take a shit, as is the goal of living to die.

Goals are over rated. Some of us still value the process and the effort.

Re:Shit World 2007 (-1, Flamebait)

smack.addict (116174) | about 7 years ago | (#20433859)

Then do it on your own time.

Re:Shit World 2007 (0)

aled (228417) | about 7 years ago | (#20434165)

Then do it on your own time.


Just right. Mod parent +6 Insightful please.

Re:Shit World 2007 (3, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 7 years ago | (#20434263)

When is ones time not their own? If your job is to stuff N widgets into boxes per hour, and it takes you 45 minutes, what business is it of anyone to tell you to stop using that 15 minutes figuring out to get it to 30?

Oh, let me guess, you're one of those jackasses under the delusion that employment is some sort of master / slave relationship. Here's a little reality check for the aspiring Lumbergh: The master is whoever costs more to replace.

Besides, the point of money is to fuck the hottest chicks, eat the best food, and die with the most toys, so this whining is counterproductive. If the employee and the CEO aren't on the same page about getting more money, you've got bigger problems than IT costs.

Re:Shit World 2007 (1)

ect5150 (700619) | about 7 years ago | (#20433933)

Goals are over rated. Some of us still value the process and the effort.
If this is truly the case, come work for me for no paycheck. We'll see how long you truly desire the effort with no reward.

While you may not be the exception to the rule, the fact stands that when the process has some type of reward (versus your no reward), we wind up having more of it. That way it doesn't matter what your intentions are, sheerly that it got done (where 'it' in this case is more innovation).

Re:Shit World 2007 (0, Troll)

crashfrog (126007) | about 7 years ago | (#20433967)

If this is truly the case, come work for me for no paycheck. We'll see how long you truly desire the effort with no reward.

Yeah, you sure told that guy! What an idiot, to think that there's people out there who would do work for no money at all! Why, I can't believe that any thinking person would ever volunteer such a foolish idea!

Now where the hell is that intern with my coffee?

Re:Shit World 2007 (2, Funny)

locokamil (850008) | about 7 years ago | (#20434007)

Now where the hell is that intern with my coffee?
It's Saturday, dude. The intern went home... you should too.

Re:Shit World 2007 (2, Insightful)

conner_bw (120497) | about 7 years ago | (#20434013)

I said over rated not irrelevant. So, i'll have to pass on your offer to be exploited.

The idea that "innovation" and "invention" is merely a conduit to money is as vulgar as my aforementioned examples.

People don't eat food to defecate. They eat for the pleasure, the experience, the company, and many other reasons.

Money is a side effect of invention, creativity is the driving force. Creativity has existed long before the CEO. It will exist long after.

Re:Shit World 2007 (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 7 years ago | (#20434143)

No. They eat to live with defecation necessary to clear the tract. The other reasons are a layer after the first is satisfied. Go truly hungry for a while and see if you care if the food tastes good or is presented properly.

You also have the sequence incorrect. Need is the driver of creativity which produces invention. Apes trade things for food (sex) with no invention involved. So no, at the most rudimentary level the CEO came before creativity.

Re:Shit World 2007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434167)

Thank god/evolution I'm not an ape! :)

Re:Shit World 2007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434045)

Goals are over rated. Some of us still value the process and the effort.
If this is truly the case, come work for me for no paycheck. We'll see how long you truly desire the effort with no reward.
Shut yer pie-hole, dumbass. Working for no paycheck is equivalent to saying "let me work on inventing shit, and I guarantee you won't make a dime off what I come up with, ever".

See the problem with your childish analogy yet?

Re:Shit World 2007 (4, Insightful)

epine (68316) | about 7 years ago | (#20434187)

If this is truly the case, come work for me for no paycheck.

Card carrying member of the all-or-nothing crowd? Some of us still value shades of grey. But I can suspend that momentarily.

While we're in the process of doing a root-canal on human dignity, what is it about human nature that connects such a worthless rejoinder directly to the kneecap? A lot of people in history have worked for no paycheck, and there's a name for that, although it's hard to get creative work out of people under those conditions.

Fast forward history from the primal snarl, the dilemma arises where one profit-oriented sweatshop industrialist finds himself undercut by an even more ruthless profit-oriented sweatshop industrialist. He needs an edge. Maybe even an idea. But where to get such a thing? He certainly can't produce one himself, that might cut into his ego-maintenance time. No, his only recourse is to shackle himself a golden goose, one of those notorious flakes who has not fully and properly internalized the value that life is all about money.

Or if not money, honor. For example, if I work a machine shop and lose my hand, I get compensation. If I work for the military and I lose my life, I get a flag. The military has a similar never-ending connundrum: how to recruit without paying people commensurate to the risk and sacrifice involved. Amp up the service and loyalty and nation-under-threat rhetoric. It works for business too. Just amp up the "it's all about money", or bare a fang while leering "come work for free", and play it up as a fair rejoinder. The rhetoric "it's all about money" does not speak to money, it speaks to subordination, and primal greeds satisfied by one person controlling another. Any person who goes around reminding others of their primal needs is all about control. I once witnesses a person purporting to be an angel investor who came into the meeting room and filled an entire white-board with the two words: FEAR and GREED. That was on there the whole time he spoke, and another week afterwards. We were too intimidated to erase it.

Re:Shit World 2007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434005)

Right on conner_bw!

At the end of the day all that creativity and all those ideas have to show on the bottom line.

Bean counters are sucking the salt out of life. We all need a roof overhead and food on the table, but owning the biggest house, car, bling, etc., does not make us happy. Look at Hollywood if you don't believe it.

Fame, fortune, yet many spend most of their life on a head-shrinker's couch or in the bottom of a pill bottle.

We've yet to come up with a good alternative for capitalism, but I certainly understand why many have turned away from it.

Re:Shit World 2007 (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 7 years ago | (#20434083)

That roof and food are your bottom line, chum. At the end of the day, you too count beans.

Re:Shit World 2007 (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 7 years ago | (#20434093)

Hollywood is almost never a good example of anything. I really don't think their problems are centered around money, though it is a significant contributor. The hours are horrible, I was listening to a show where some guy made a documentary suggesting that the hours be brought down to twelve hours as a hard limit because longer days are a health threat, hurts marriages and so on. As you might have seen, the culture & gossip in Hollywood can be vicious too.

Re:Shit World 2007 (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 7 years ago | (#20434111)

Don't just blame bean counters. Blame the "Me-Too" group. If Joe Sixpack gets a new Quad processor PC because he's good at writing multi-threaded applications that speed up the process and someone in the group complains that they didn't get it too... you have a problem that most companies will just say, "Fine! Stick with your single processor machines!" Because it would be too expensive and stupid to upgrade all the developers.

Obviously, that's just an example. But people who innovate usually do things different than other people. They can sometimes take a longer lunch and skip breaks. They might leave their PC and go for a walk around the building to think about what the problem is (sometimes it helps.) Lo and behold, in steps the "Me-Too" and demands that they get to leave their station at will (to go sleep in the cafeteria.) Or they want to take a long lunch and get to leave early. Then the bean counter's step in.

Re:Shit World 2007 (4, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 7 years ago | (#20434051)

I think you have it mixed up. The goal of running a business is to make money. If innovating helps you make money, then that's great. If it doesn't help make money, then there's little point for the business to take part in it. Innovating can give you an edge with the competition, but it's an endless cycle, so the edge is often short-lived.

Re:Shit World 2007 (1)

kiracatgirl (791797) | about 7 years ago | (#20434081)

I thought the "goal" of eating was to, well, not die. And I didn't think living had a goal, really. I think you're confusing goal with final outcome...

Re:Shit World 2007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434103)

This basically all sounds like, "give me free money."

Most people say that in one form or another. This is one of the many ways in which CEOs do.

Re:Shit World 2007 (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 years ago | (#20434183)

That's great if you're trying to figure out what to do with your life. But if I'm sitting in management trying to figure out how much of my budget to allocate to innovation, I won't be the one doing or feeling the "process and the effort". Technically I'm not even interested in the deliverables, because I'm not a end user and scientific research is something the rest of the world can do. I just want to know how much this will affect my bottom line - if it makes or saves money.

If I go out to the store and buy milk and bread, do I really care how the "process and the effort" was for the people producing it? Nah, I want to know how it hits my wallet. And maybe something about the quality of the product. Perhaps even if there was child labour or animal testing or whatever involved. But it's not like I'm going to take a real personal interest in the process and effort. At least in higher management you're just as detached, employee satisfaction is statistics on turnover and salary requirements, in other words money.

Most people take pride in and value the work that they do. But that's very different from what you value in deliverables from others. So yes, good point but I really don't think it applies here.

Re:Shit World 2007 (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about 7 years ago | (#20434229)

Technically I'm not even interested in the deliverables, because I'm not a end user and scientific research is something the rest of the world can do. I just want to know how much this will affect my bottom line - if it makes or saves money.

Just so. And this is what makes America great.

Or so I'm told.

Re:Shit World 2007 (2, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | about 7 years ago | (#20434347)

Then pay for it yourself. Seriously, become a CEO in a company, or start your own company. Then you can throw money around however you want, but you'll be responsible for the consequences.

Re:Shit World 2007 (1)

yada21 (1042762) | about 7 years ago | (#20434889)

Goals are over rated. Some of us still value the process and the effort.
Nothing wrong with having a hobby.

Innovation Pains (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 7 years ago | (#20433849)


Innovation must also solve a problem with the status quo (even if only not perfectly perceived). Big Picture Executives and Chief Lieutenants get into discussions all day about "we could do this", and later learn that it has a complex side effect. If the side effect is solved, innovate. If the side effect is worse than the original problem, then that idea has to be parked for some length of time until the atmosphere changes and it can be revisited.

Bullshit (5, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | about 7 years ago | (#20433857)

If they were so worried about innovation, they'd let their employees use it (I'm talking from an IT perspective here). At my last job, we had good solutions in place to do things cheaper, faster, and better (yup, all three). But management insisted on leaving that system to go with a vendor's solution that used canned products to 'solve' the problem for a lot more cost and effort. And it never worked well.

Fast forward to today. I'm interviewing for jobs. Every single company I interview with doesn't care what my aptitude is, or what I can do to help the business use technology to give them a great ROI on technology while solving their problems. They only care "Do you know product X?"

So, my own experience shows me that CEO's certainly don't give a crap about innovation. Or, if they do, their IT managers certainly aren't following their vision (actually, I do think that is probably the case, as I saw some evidence of that at the last company after each quarterly meeting where I'd agree with what the CEO wanted to do, but my own management would always go down the buy the canned solution that doesn't work so well path).

Re:Bullshit (1)

ardor (673957) | about 7 years ago | (#20433969)

Well, conducting many interviews calls for some streamlining, don't you think? Asking for product X is easier and faster than in-depth conversation..

Re:Bullshit [OFF TOPIC] (1)

kanweg (771128) | about 7 years ago | (#20434647)

"This sig does not contain any SCO code."

We beg to differ. In particular we noted the term "not", which is in our code. You are also infringing with individual characters, the nature and place of which we will not disclose until in court.

Our lawyers will be in contact with you.

D. McBride

Re:Bullshit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434101)

This worthy of being modded up.

'Innovation' in the eyes of CIO's, is that the 'Pet Projects' that they chose AND set the parameters on (ie COTS , big market leaders and self serving deadlines) continually fail, or were successfully implemented after the perception re-education phase.

A sure sign of this not getting the companies documents on and internal 'google', so that the people who did poor evaluation (strategic business unit or some non IT centric area) never get personally attacked for deficient costings and project/business plans.

Strangely, spending up big ticket items is seen as the way up - a successful series of quiet achievements is rarely noticed.

The same CEOs that get copyrights exended? (2, Interesting)

Mark19960 (539856) | about 7 years ago | (#20433867)

This alone stifles creativity and innovation.....

Perhaps they should get a fucking clue?

hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433875)

Golly gee!! I wonder why on earth I don't work IT anymore! It could also be that a lot of these CEO's don't know their ass from a hole in the ground either.

Efficient innovation (1)

amightywind (691887) | about 7 years ago | (#20433885)

At Boston Scientific the new mantra is efficient innovation, brought to you by people who grossly overpaid to purchase innovation (Guidant), to the ruin of all.

what an idiot (1)

kencurry (471519) | about 7 years ago | (#20433905)

from TFA:

Andrew: Innovation is a three-step process: 1. Generate an idea. 2. Commercialize it. 3. Realize the value.

this guy is a genius.

If only I had know it was this simple before, I have wasted my career...

Re:what an idiot (1)

jrsumm (466914) | about 7 years ago | (#20434135)

Bah! That process is going nowhere! He forgot the "???"

Re:what an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434407)

No no, you have it all wrong. The whole process is "???", reworded.

54% of CEOs can go fuck themselves (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433923)

Who cares what CEOs think.

I'll tell you what 100% of CEOs ought to be contemplating, they should consider that their inflated compensation packages are nothing but the stolen wages of the labor force.

Well doh (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 years ago | (#20433989)

This smells like basic management consulting stuff
1. Catch as many ideas as possible
2. Usually an initial independent review "does this make sense at all?"
3. Priority process, typically in several stages
3a) Benefit estimates, cost estimates, risk etc. into a business plan
3b) More review (alone)
3c) Prioritizing (total)
4. Develop quantifiable success metrics
5. Review resource contraints and select the best project portfolio
6. Do project implementation
7. Review project underways
8. Review compared to success metrics

Innovation is risk, but risk can be managed. Companies that don't innovate die, so it's not like "not doing it" is an option. I've seen so many bad examples of poor management here, basicly things get started ad hoc based on personal initiatives with no proper review, planning, success criteria or anything. On the other hand, I've seen a few companies that have overdone it though, where the red tape is killing it too. But most companies really crap out on two things: Highly unrealistic business plans which nobody gets smacked for, and starting off projects with little to no regard on "where do we really want to go and is this project taking us in the right direction?".

not a surprise, but i want a surprise (1)

icepick72 (834363) | about 7 years ago | (#20433993)

It's not surprising someone who looks at the bottom line a lot is unhappy with innovation which provides sporadic returns. Innovation is often an unknown fiscal endeavour whereas reducing, reusing and recycling your technology -- and sometimes jumping on the popular bandwagons -- is often more fiscally viable. That's why there are layers underneath to the CEO to manage such things. What's next, an article stating 100% of CFOs are not happy with innovation.

RTFAd? (5, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | about 7 years ago | (#20434009)

I know that reading TFA is not a prerequisite for commenting on stories on /., hell it is often regarded as being gay or some other form of highbrow elitism. Those who do it are regarded as know-it-all wise-asses who are flaunting it at the rest of unwashed /. crowds. Even among those who submit the stories and those who push them to the front pages it is now regarded fashionable not to read the text in the original articles but instead make wildly biased 'educated' guesses colored with personal preferences, while trying to describe to the rest of us what it is that the article is insinuating.

Having said all of the above, I actually RTFAd, so sue me.

The article mentions that 46% of the 2,468 senior executives surveyed worldwide said that they are satisfied with the return on their innovation spending. The rest are dissatisfied with the returns.

This has nothing to do with innovation itself, this has to do with the fact that often what is supposed to be innovation (something that is supposed to provide the company with better processes, systems, business and generate income or reduce spending) in reality does nothing of the kind. Often people push their ideas not because they want to innovate, but because they want to spend or they want to do something that is not profitable for the company but satisfies their own interests.

The article is about waste of money and it is not about CEOs who "don't like" innovations.

Move along, this is nothing else but the usual 'non-tech' CEO bashing. (Oh, I am not against bashing, but only when there is actually a good point to make. There is nothing of the kind here.)

Innovation == Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434037)

For me innovation has just become a Microsoft buzzword. I cringe everytime I hear it, but luckily I don't read Microsoft groupthink too often.

Heloooooo????? (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | about 7 years ago | (#20434061)

Helloooo???? Anybody home?

Reality check 101: a CEO's job is to maximize profits. That's all, folks.

So anything that doesn't bring-in a fat bottom-line right now can't stand a chance.

Market Realities (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434223)

[i]Reality check 101: a CEO's job is to maximize profits. That's all, folks.
So anything that doesn't bring-in a fat bottom-line right now can't stand a chance.[/i]

I hope you realize the difference between the 2 statements you made, because it's important.

The CEO's job is to maximize returns for the shareholders.

This is DIFFERENT FROM a need to maximize that return for each quarter. In theory, if a CEO had an opportunity to underperform by 10% this quarter, but that would result in overperformance by 5% over the following 8 quarters, then he SHOULD do that. It's a profitable long-term investment which maximizes the total return to shareholders, even with reasonable discounting of the future returns.

Unfortunatly, many CEO's don't value the long term. And much of the problem is investors. There are huge reactions to current quarter results, and not a lot of value given to future investments. The way the system is structured, most CEO's are incentivized (and evaluated) on a "win now" framework. Like I said, I blame investors as much as CEO's for this, but there you are.

The CEO's need to get "a fat bottom-line right now" is NOT, in many cases, long-term profit maximizing.

I find it ironic that the same investors who reward short-term thinking are the same ones who complain in many cases about not being innovative.

no innovation in large companies (1)

consumer (9588) | about 7 years ago | (#20434097)

In large companies, "innovation" is defined as a VP deciding to switch from one multi-million dollar commercial software package to another, in order to look like something is happening. Large companies tend not to trust their in-house staff to come up with anything. This is why I now work for small companies that can't afford to ignore their employees.

Re:no innovation in large companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434607)

Right on the money.

CIO types generally have no technical ability. They only excel in self-promotion and brown-nosing. They would not know innovation and cost saving if it came and bit them on the ass. They prefer the status quo when it advances their personal interests. No one ever got fired for doing nothing. If I leave a vendor system in place - I can blame someone else should something happen. The only question that comes to mind when they are evaluating a new system is "how can I get credit for this?", not "what is best for the company?" or "how to save money?". After all, they reason - it's only the company's money.

Risk is inherent in innovation. (1)

Ginnungagap42 (817075) | about 7 years ago | (#20434105)

We did nott get to where we are today without failures. We learn from our failures. "Risk-free innovation" is a fantasy, pure and simple.

Re:Risk is inherent in innovation. (1)

Ginnungagap42 (817075) | about 7 years ago | (#20434119)

(Oops! Hit "submit" too soon.)

If CEO's are frightened by this concept, they should get out of business.

There IS a real problem here... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434159)

...and it's usually sitting behind the CIO's desk.

What this is telling us is that we have good ideas, but we're not realizing gains from them.

Well, some obvious culprits:
* Poor identification of what ideas will be the ones to generate returns. In a number of large company, the CIO is personally making these decisions, based on proposals that bubble up through several layers of management. That means the person with the idea isn't advocating it, and there are also a number of people in the process who's primary responsibility isn't being innovative. Ideas get trapped by not being someone's "pet project" or having a poor advocate.
* Poor processes. Quite a lot of organizations have significant bureaucratic oversight of project process. This can limit the pace at which innovation is delivered (witness the revolution in Agile development). The main conculusion is that the CIO will get more, better, faster by NOT making the process as burdensome, and even trading off some of his "certainty" about the results.
* Poor projections for truly innovative products. A lot of "management" managers, who don't really understand technology, make decisions based on cost vs/ expected returns. This means you're insisting on seeing an expected return and an expected cost up front, before the project even starts. These are estimates, meaning they're largely guesses. And while this is necessary to some degree, putting too much emphasis on "the bottom line" at this point can be counterproductive. Notably, it weights towards "similar to known"/"safe" projects, rather than game breaking opportunities where "well, we don't really know what the return will be" projects.
* Poor planning. Many large organizations budget on a yearly cycle, and will lay out the budgets based on the current backlog of products. This can be very difficult to change. Which means the average idea sits 6 months before the next budget cycle before it even possibly gets into next year's plan, and even then it's not clear when it will be delivered. There's no leftover budget for someone to recognize "this is a HUGE idea and we need to act now to capture this opportunity." Too many people treat the software industry like the construction industry, where you can "plan and forget" for the year. A lot of companies compound this by making managers and exec's objectives tied to specific projects--now you have people incentivized to deliver on "the plan" and ignore new ideas, even if they think the new idea is more important/better than the planned project.

Maybe... (2, Insightful)

lordvalrole (886029) | about 7 years ago | (#20434243)

They need to stop fucking the little guy over. You start screwing employees out of their royalties or bonuses or benefits. You are going to see a lot less people innovating for these big ass corporations and end up making their own damn products on the side. Only to end up getting sued by every other corporation. This is the major problem with business today. There is too much suing going on for any innovation to go on. It seems to me like all the innovating goes on in colleges that were funded by the government. I am sure a lot of research being done is for our military.

Right now anything remotely interesting ends up getting sued out of business. I am tired of companies not learning how to adapt to new technology *especially web technology*

There is a whole world of innovation out there but the problem is that it costs too much whether it be money or the threat of getting sued out of existence...it is a huge risk now to start up your own business or even bring to the table innovative products to your own corporations.

I refer to office space a lot because a huge portion of it is true in business practices. If I make an effort to do my job plus try to save the company money...plus be innovative and I bring it up the ranks. Do you think I will compensated for that amazing job? Fuck no. You either get a miserable raise and/or a kick in the nuts.

Welcome to the corporate world of mass fuckery

Maybe it's because you're an obnoxious twerp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434303)

Don't like where you work? Then quit bitching about it and find a job you like.

Because I'm sure your attitude isn't well hidden from your employers.

Innovation seems to happen once (only) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434277)

I can think of a couple of local companies that were started as a result of the founder's post-grad work. A product was developed, found a market and the company got big. Unfortunately, no more (or at least not much) innovation happened. The company will keep going until the market goes away and then the company will cease to exist.

The trouble is that too many companies last too long. They don't innovate and their mere existance prevents the birth of new companies that do innovate. Microsoft springs immediately to mind.

wow (1)

SolusSD (680489) | about 7 years ago | (#20434285)

you mean putting people in charge that don't understand a damn thing about your companies product doesn't breed innovation?

And? (1)

Seiruu (808321) | about 7 years ago | (#20434295)

It is just me or does this article have a high "So what?" factor?

The point of INVESTMENTS, because that's what the topic really is about, is the Return on Investment (ROI). Wow, never heard THAT one before.

And not an abundance of IDEAS (which really are just thoughts everybody can have, so why wouldn't it be in abundance?) but the right (project) methodologies and the funding to carry out said ideas. Well, given that the majority of IT projects are not written off as "success" (however they wish to define it), I'm not reading anything new either.

Oh, and while talking about IDEAS: they are certainly NOT to be confused with GOOD ideas that can actually effectively and efficiently address a certain issue in a certain environment, and with at least a conceptual planning to realize that good idea in the right context to tackle said issues. As everybody can write a paper, but not everybody can write a paper with a significant/original subject, sound (carried out) methodology, and a well written report of all that and have it go through peer reviews and accepted for publication.

As for weird short speech about goals being overrated: goals are by definition the purpose of the thing you do. So to say something as ridiculous as goals being overrated, and enjoying the process and effort is a bit silly. Process of what? Effort in what? To achieve an objective, a goal. That's what. People eat with survival as goal. You apparently eat food because you simply enjoy eating (thus your goal would be consuming something for the sake of feeling good) and apparently while not being hungry (thus your goal is not to still your hunger).

Goals are not overrated at all, perspectives are.

Re:And? (1)

Seiruu (808321) | about 7 years ago | (#20434363)

Hey I have an idea for innovation: an edit button! Woohoo!

[quote]And not an abundance of IDEAS (which really are just thoughts everybody can have, so why wouldn't it be in abundance?) but the right (project) methodologies and the funding to carry out said ideas.[/quote]

And the amount of IDEAS (which really are just thoughts everybody can have, so why wouldn't it be in abundance?) are apparently not the problem, but the lack of the right (project) methodologies and the funding to carry out said ideas.

Oh and btw, starvation is not a pleasant feeling for many, would you say you ate to not starve? Is that one way of eating "for pleasure"? Would that go against your feelgood stance of eating for a predetermined purpose and not by freewill?

Goals overrated? Puh lease!

Maybe they shouldnt overhyped it that much (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 7 years ago | (#20434297)

"innovation innovation innovation innovation" - everyone is repeating it like parrots. you cant just innovate every f**kin month. even not every f**kin year. before they even start widely using an innovation that is made, management starts crapping around about a 'new innovation'. maybe thats because they are actually not adding any real value to the company and feel like they are doing it when they do the innovation blabbering.

CEOs and bean counters stifle innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434299)

This is truly ironic. I think someone said above that the CEOs can't see past the 13 week window, and this has been exactly right in almost every place that I have worked for. This was especially prevalent in the last place I was employed, where the company started off as THE innovator of the products that they sold, but failed to improve to this day, and now they are sending emails to their technical support people asking them to report any "customer attrition" concerns to their direct manager, so that sales can apply the full court press on these customers that are shopping around. The company has an influx of hundreds of millions of dollars in money to use to innovate and create, but somehow the money keeps going elsewhere and the company stands mired in quicksand. As the CEO takes vacations to New Zealand...

Blue Sky research is what is most lacking (4, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 7 years ago | (#20434301)

It's the kind of research that simply INVENTS new weird shit that is what is so tragically dying in the world of American technology. The Bell Labs of the world are now in the university systems, but they are frequently tied to corporate donors (for better and worse) and are further problematised by society's need to educate people to be something other than simple cogs in the industrial machine - making them well rounded, critically thinking, discerning citizens is also of great importance. As a consequence, the need for innovation in research as downloaded to the level of university destabilises itself over time as time/mind share is increasingly directed to the mercantile demands of the corporate masters.


This is not a good thing. We need more blue sky deep research - research with NO profit motive - its where the real ground-breaking stuff happens. Keep science away from bean-counters. They will eviscerate it the same way they gutted the Arts and Humanities.

RS

Re:Blue Sky research is what is most lacking (1)

jet_silver (27654) | about 7 years ago | (#20434933)

Funny this should come up. I just left a company where "innovation" was stated as a core value, except you had better not do any of that unless it was guaranteed to work. The CEO of that place is an accountant and he treats "innovation" as something you sprinkle on mediocre profits to get better ones.

Inventing things involves taking risk, that the hole you're digging is going to come up dry. That's the way it is; if you could -guarantee- innovation you're much too valuable to be an employee because you're a real magician.

During the interviews for my new job I was pretty careful to sound the staff out about what happens when something new you're trying doesn't work. The answer was "document and move on", because they have a way of reviewing these dry holes from time to time and seeing if new avenues to solve problems have surfaced. I thought that was more reasonable. The CEO of this place is a physicist.

99% of inventive employees dissatisfied with CEOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434331)

Subject says it all.

The problem is bean counting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434359)

The biggest obstacle in IT innovation is the fact that so many IT departments are overseen by accounting departments. If you can't create a concrete quantifiable measurement of the impact a system change will have, then you won't get approval for it from the bean counting morons upstairs. Not everything is concretely measurable. For example, how do you accurately quantify the effects of a change that greatly increases employee morale before the change has been made? I'd say doing that is a crap shoot at best. Does that mean the change isn't worthwhile? No.

On top of that, corporations that measure department success based on their impact on the bottom line always look down at the IT department because they see it as an expense. What doesn't seem to click in their minds is the fact that the success of their entire business often hinges on the functionality of their IT systems. Nobody likes to acknowledge that until an IT system stops working and the whole business grinds to a halt. You'd think people would be more willing to invest in something that's so critical to success in today's world.

Innovation? How about entrepreneurship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434369)

This is BS. Total BS. Everybody really *KNOWS* what drives innovation - creative, intelligent and capable people taking risks, preferably expecting some personal benefit from the risk. The payoff need not be financial, but there must be a payoff.

CEO's and other high-level executives are paid to pump the stock price, and the easiest way to do so is through liquidation of assets (layoffs, selloffs, attrition, or the occasional stupid acquisition). Most executives are non-technical, financial managers. They are risk averse. In America at least, innovation is basically dead except for startups. There is a reason, for instance, that big Pharma and the medical device manufacturers are suffering. They are dominated by risk averse individuals who won't, for their careers, accept failure. Failure is how people learn. Failure can be an indication of risk taking. Unfortunately, failure is also how tort lawyers make money and how executives get canned.

What *possible* incentive does a career scientist, engineer or IT contributor have to take risk in a large organization? The payout is non-existent (except for individual gratification, and this skews the projects on which someone is willing to invest their discretion in choosing), and taking the risk could result in career suicide.

The problem is the CEOs, not innovaters... (1)

GoMMiX (748510) | about 7 years ago | (#20434405)

We keep working so hard to ship all our jobs overseas then these pricks want to say they are dissatisfied with innovation?

It's no wonder innovation in the US is lacking, severely. I mean, seriously - how many people do you know in the US who have a job where innovation is even allowed? Not many - not many at all. Actually, not many of the people I know even work in information or research fields anymore - all their jobs have been shipped overseas and filled by H1-B visa workers who will work for nearly half the money.

Another decade at this rate and the only thing America will be is a consumerist state - how we will all be consumers when there are 0 jobs here held by Americans is beyond me, though.

Hence the start-up. (1)

E++99 (880734) | about 7 years ago | (#20434435)

Like the summary says, lack of ideas are not a problem. In fact, too many ideas are a problem in a large company. There is no satisfactory way to process all the ideas of all the people in the company and pick out the good from the bad. Everyone thinks their idea is good, but most are usually wrong. And a large company, if they don't have an R&D budget to devote to such things, just doesn't have the risk tolerance for trying untested things.

That is why new small companies will always arise, and when successful, take the place of old companies. People with the REALLY good ideas are generally smart enough to see them through from the ground up, and accomplish something that no large company is even remotely flexible enough to achieve. This is also why innovation of this sort tends to happen only in the most business-friendly countries.

Re:Hence the start-up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20434513)

Most large companies don't have the reward system and support system in place to nurture serious innovation except perhaps at designated research labs. They often talk about being innovative, but they don't walk the walk.

If some engineer or small group of engineers had both an idea and the implementation skills to develop something that could make millions for the company, which would create or get the company into a new market segment, what would they have to do to make it work? Would they even be given time to do it, or are they crushed by their current workload of maintenance activity, meetings, and paperwork? Would they get commensurate rewards? Are there any recent success stories?

Apple, Google and 3M might be exceptions. HP supposedly used to be in the pre-Carly days. Even here, things aren't so clear - many of Google's hits (apart from text search) were actually obtained through acquisition.

Why not invest the same as they expect (1)

PotatoHead (12771) | about 7 years ago | (#20434505)

others to do?

The average CEO makes 400 times what their "innovators" do. So, take a cut, apply those dollars toward a return, then grow their salary by percentage of new revenue from innovation, rather than cutting costs.

The goal of innovation (2, Insightful)

bitspotter (455598) | about 7 years ago | (#20434601)

"The goal of innovation is to make or save money, and IT should never lose sight of that central fact."

Within the rather thin, anemic context of profit-seeking enterprises, yes.

It's been apparent for years, however, that profit-seeking behavior presents one of the greatest obstructions to innovation, whose purpose is to actually help people (and not just "enterprises") to improve their conditions and lives. From proprietary software and web services EULAs, the DMCA and abuse of its takedown notice systems, incessant pointless copyright extensions, to incompetent patent granting system, you don't have to go far to at least reasonably wonder if "the bottom line" is failing to help innovation more than innovation os failing to help generate profits.

There's a LOT more to life outside the grubbing business world, but judging by the prevalence of people making misleading statements like this, it's easy to forget.

The flip side of that coin (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 7 years ago | (#20434629)

The goal of innovation is to make or save money, and IT should never lose sight of that central fact.

Even if IT doesn't, the customer can. I have one customer...a government entity...that I've worked pretty much the same way I'd treat a private side customer, with an eye toward efficiency and the bottom line. It's bought me nothing there. They spent a million dollars to take a working application developed by three people and give it to a team of 7 from another company to maintain. No fail over, they won't let it integrate with any other applications and, the final insult, they took over our server to host it. The customer will carve off services and outsource them, even if it costs more and the service isn't as good. Sometimes it's the same people maintaining the system, just working for a different company.

Told them this year that I'm done. Can't do it anymore, it's just so frustrating. You try to do the right thing, work hard finding better ways to automate a process and they crap on all your research and best efforts in favor of something that costs more and will never work. I've seen them waste tens of millions on the same mistakes, over and over. Ironically they're very appreciative and don't want me to leave. Still haven't figured that out.

Dissatisfaction is a two-way street in some IT shops. Before you start tap dancing on the IT folks for a lack of innovation, maybe try talking to them, just to make sure that you've addressed the barriers management might be erecting that hinder a more successful relationship.

At the end of the day (1)

mycall (802802) | about 7 years ago | (#20434645)

"At the end of the day all that creativity".. Who else is sick to death of this expression (although I did find the article fascinating!)

Revisionist semantics is like revisionist history (1)

bombastinator (812664) | about 7 years ago | (#20434665)

Change wikipedia, change the world!

Retroactively redefining words is very handy for those who wish to manipulate public opinion. If one changes the words meaning there isw a period of time where the new word has the associations of the old before the public gets wise.
One example of this is the term "ethnic cleansing". Ethnic cleansing used to be better known as Genocide. And they even got away with it for a while until the U.N. officially married the terms back together again. It took several years though.
Another good example is when the Nazi party changed it's name to avoid certain obvious problems. There are even certain political extremist groups --ahem-Moral majority--Ahem-- That change their name about every 5 years or so to keep ahead of public opinion.

What they are calling "innovation" here is NOT the original definition of the word.

Real, which is to say unmanipulatable, dictionaries such as Webster define it more or less as something new. http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/Innovation Much more like the definition of invention as used here.
If this were true terms like ideological innovation and scientific innovation would make no sense.

The term "to innovate" as used here used to be called "to capitalize on" Capitalize has become a technical business term but the general definition used to be more like "to create profit from" http://www.english-test.net/toeic/vocabulary/words /158/toeic-definitions.php
Capitalize as used here is again a word with negative connotations.

The general source of this retroactive reinvention of the term is so far as I can tell, Microsoft. If in Microsoft's public statements one substitutes the term they begin to make a lot more sense. If this is done, by their own statemant, Microsoft does not make new things, they capitalize on other people's ideas.

Perhaps this article's purpose is to remarry the terms. Much like the U.N.'s action on genocide/ethnic cleansing, but I felt clarification was in order.

Science (1)

simonbp (412489) | about 7 years ago | (#20434669)

Invention without a financial return is just an expense
Invention without a financial return is called science.

It's what I do for living, though it's rather hard to make a business case that figuring out the decay rate of craters on Triton is going to enrich anyone financially. With hope though, it will enrich my fellow scientists and lead to a broader understanding of the solar system and our place it it. Can you put a price on that?

Turning the question around, would you have asked Max Plank for a business case for quantum physics, 50 years before it was used to invent the transistor?

Simon

Re:Science (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | about 7 years ago | (#20434881)

---Invention without a financial return is called science.

Better said, it is called a Loss.

If one were a good scientist, they would tie their project in to a chance of gains for a few "buckets". One bucket could be the now-1 year, while another could be 1-5 years, while another could be 5 year-far future gains.

Risk analysis could be done to determine what strategy would maximize gains. Any bean counter would understand this kind of analysis and be very conducive to this sort of data handling.

I'd imagine that if I had 10% of my time for far future studies, I'd have leeway to do whatever I wanted, as long as I made a case for it.

---It's what I do for living, though it's rather hard to make a business case that figuring out the decay rate of craters on Triton is going to enrich anyone financially. With hope though, it will enrich my fellow scientists and lead to a broader understanding of the solar system and our place it it. Can you put a price on that?

Yeah, I place 0$, along with a negative cost associated for a scientist not doing profitable research. So, I'd assign a -100000$ cost on that (valuing you at 100k/yr and 1 yr of work)

In opposition to that would be lunar research. I could easily make a case in that we need to study the moon and all of its variables in that opposing interests could do the same, and possibly create better products in presence of its low gravity. Or I could say the same for space research in that we could diversify creation of certain hard-to-make objects easier in space.

---Turning the question around, would you have asked Max Plank for a business case for quantum physics, 50 years before it was used to invent the transistor?

If it was profitable to create Planck's equations and to investigate quantum theory, it would have been done when needed.

(All of this has been said if a Capitalist would have said it. Perhaps, Marx was right in that the main failing of Capitalism is that it does not take into consideration the aspect of the human condition: discovery.)

Because .... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 7 years ago | (#20434707)

... innovation causes change.

Change requires ongoing management attention.

Ongoing management attention interferes with their afternoon golf games.

Innovation is a word that means absolutely nothing (1)

wardk (3037) | about 7 years ago | (#20434783)

the industry has abused this word to the point it's meaningless bullshit meant to obscure the fact that no, there are no new ideas here.

99.99% of all CEOs are only in it for the money (1)

forgoil (104808) | about 7 years ago | (#20434965)

I really wish that more of them would care about a job well done and helping humanity...
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