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The Innovation Marathon

By: Michael Wynne
Posted: December 5, 2006, from the December 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 2 of 3

The pressure to innovate is tremendous and relentless. CEOs are facing a major challenge in trying to achieve greater than organic growth for their companies. They are looking to innovation and globalization to provide much needed growth.

The Marathon

It is not unusual to have 20,000–30,000 people show up for a marathon these days. Of course, not all of them hope to win. In fact, most just want to complete the marathon. How many companies are you competing with in your global innovation marathon? How many are better and faster innovators? Will your company make it to the finish line?

Maybe your company is already innovating. Good. But how good are you at it?

“Hitting the wall” is a term used to describe the overwhelming sense of fatigue many runners feel when they reach somewhere around mile 19 of a marathon. Many don’t make it beyond that point. Where is your innovation effort in this race? Have you hit the wall? Many innovation attempts reach a point where companies give up. Many companies invest large sums of money on R&D and innovation with very little success.

Focus is indispensable in both running a marathon successfully and generating successful innovation in business. The runner has to have the vision of the finish line present at all times. The same applies to innovation, but, unfortunately, many companies tend to lose sight of their finish line along the way. The clearer your vision of the end result, the more likely you are to achieve it.