In case no one else has told you, the sky is falling. According to an article in the New York Times today, we're going to hell in a hand basket, at least for the time being. This puts people like me who work in the innovation field into a bit of a bind. I whole-heartedly support (actually vehemently encourage) employers to consider how and how much each member of a team adds value. I've seen too many companies burn money in the street because they're uncomfortable with asking every team member to articulate how they add value. And companies are worse off for it.
What I do object to is the idea that areas such as innovation, product development, and research are luxuries. Prada shoes are a luxury. Gourmet meals at 5-star restaurants are luxuries. Innovation, product development, and research are a company's lifeline to the future.
Paull Young from Converseon sent me a blog post yesterday that is so good, I have to pass it on. http://bankervision.typepad.com/bankervision/2008/06/innovation-is-a-luxury.html
In the post, James Gardner, who works in innovation at a UK bank, talks about the five ways that innovators within companies add value. And suggests that if we wants to preserve our place within our companies, we should develop each of these five areas: invention, influence, entrepreneurship, thought leadership, and sponsorship.
The trouble I see is that areas like innovation are viewed purely as a cost - a nice to have if you can get it for $0. Bad idea. Innovation is an investment. Over time, it generates cash flow and does wonders for getting the best and brightest minds to beat down your door to play a part. And with tough times ahead, that talent is the only way a company is going to save itself from going under.
Picture above can be found at: http://www.aqua-aerobic.com/images/aquaology_innovation.jpg