Forces that Thwart Innovation: Part IV – Myopia

Blog Post Innovation that Creates New Value

In our previous posts, we discussed how to unhook yourself — and your company — from the forces of corporate gravity in order to get big ideas off the ground, and how to diagnose and cure overprotective corporate immune systems.

With gravity and immunity addressed, it’s time for a vision exam. This doesn’t entail the mission of your innovation initiative, or innovation consulting efforts, but rather corporate myopia — the condition in which the urgency of today’s business needs and demands supersede the importance of the future of the business.

Just as with your eyesight, myopia will lock on to something very narrow in focus — and businesses often find themselves afflicted with the same condition.

Removing the Blinders

In many cases, companies struggle to see beyond the next fiscal quarter, and they see the future as a mere extension of the past. This existence of living quarter-to-quarter — or year-to-year — isn’t conducive to innovation, where you often need to be thinking in terms of multiple years, if not decades.

Once companies can see and understand this, they can pull back those blinders and create a future filled with unlimited possibility. On a granular level, they can then see emerging trends and identify opportunities within their industry — or surrounding industries — that could positively influence them.

20/20 Vision

Removing the blinders won’t happen overnight, and often, organizations that are laser-focused on meeting quarterly goals will overlook or ignore ROI brought forth by innovation if it’s not going to quickly pay dividends.

In real-world terms, to take a page from history, let’s examine railroad companies in the U.S. during the rise of the air travel industry. According to the Editors of Publications International, Ltd., “Between 1945 and 1964, non-commuter rail passenger travel declined an incredible 84 percent. … And by the time the 1970s ended, the glory days of railroading were over.”

Railroad companies simply didn’t see themselves as being in the transportation business. When air travel took off, rail companies ignored opportunities that airlines were all-too-happy to take advantage of, and in doing so, this myopic vision sealed their fate

Presently, we can see how, in the case of the hotel industry, global chains are waking up to small, nimble companies, such as Airbnb, that see an opportunity and want to take advantage of it. Established hotel brands realize that they can’t ignore this, and many great hospitality companies avoid myopia by having their finger on the pulse of emerging trends

In summary, with corporate gravity and immune systems addressed, ensuring that your long-term goals remain clearly identified is imperative to protecting innovation projects from the pressing needs of today.

Discussion