Yesterday I watched a video of a lecture given by Gary Hamel, author of Competing for the Future with our management team. The lecture was excellent, pointing out some of the very real problems with innovation in corporate environment.

One of the things that Gary points out in the lecture it is very hard to reinvent yourself these days because things move very fast. Additionally, as you try to introduce change, most of the time in order to justify it people look for historical data to prove that what you are attempting to do will work, which in a true situation of reinvention may not necessarily be there.

Another distinction that Gary mentions, which was also mentioned on an episode of the Killer Innovations podcast was the fact that rarely is innovation ever a truly new idea, but is normally an application of a solution from some other industry to your own to solve a new problem. I found this distinction to be a truly useful one. A really good example of this that I used in the discussion afterwards was Larry Page’s application of the academic citation principle (which I’m told by Tom the Architect essentially an application of Bayes’ theorem) to the application of search, resulting in Googles PageRank algorithm and a completely new and more reliable method of search.

It’s interesting how many times one can actually come up with ideas only to have them rejected because “we are not in that business” or “that isn’t our core competency” when it could actually be a whole new business model to help the company. Gary talked a little about these situations in the video as well.

One problem: I have no idea what the video was called. However, it was useful and I am definitely ordering his book. I’ll find out the name and post it up here within the next few days.

I’m becoming quite enamoured with the research around innovation available and how most companies just don’t understand the principles involved, or worse, are just too comfortable with where they are.

Seems to me there could be quite an industry built around consulting on this stuff …