These days many companies aspire to innovation but unfortunately, when it comes to actually doing innovation, not a lot happens.
In many cases companies contract innovation consultant specialists, but with the search engine optimisation experts all offering to make you top of google, many such consultants fall short when it comes to delivering real innovation outcomes.
In any business where there are low barriers to entry, people jump on the bandwagon as soon as they see an emerging market and before long, like coffee shops, the market is saturated.
So when it comes to innovation consultants, innovation trainers and innovation training there are a few probing questions you may ask before engaging people to deliver to your people:
It is of course worth noting that all innovation consultant web sites will have a host of testimonials. In most cases testimonials should be taken with a “pinch of salt” because anybody can write one, just like restaurant or accommodation reviews.
To have any credibility, testimonials need to have the name of the company, the title and position of the person offering the comment as well as ideally their contact details so you can check the authenticity of such comments.
How long has this innovation consultancy been in business. Are they new “kids on the block” of have they been around a long time and can demonstrate a great deal of experience? Getting real outcomes with innovation training is not easy, indeed many people will say you can’t even teach the art of innovation. This is considered much like a golf swing, to be somewhat innate and not something that can be learned.
Indeed this may be true to some extent, but golf professionals make a good career from teaching the difficult art of golf, but the good ones are the ones who have a great deal of experience, have passed rigorous training and in many cases have been on the golf circuit.
Experience in delivering innovation training is something you should look for when engaging an innovation consultant.
Any innovation consultant will be able to demonstrate their past work, but if you read between the lines of their claims in many cases you may find these to be superficial and not ones that can be quantified. For example “Our work improved the approach of the entire business to innovation with everybody in the organisation now looking to the best new ideas”. This is a nonsense superficial claim with no substances at all. Beware of such claims.
Patents and IP
Explore IP issues with your prospective engagement with an innovation consultant. Do they understand patents? Can they write a patent? Can they do a patent search? Do they know about the types of patents, the costs the time scales, the risks and rewards? What can be patented and how do patents differ from other types of intellectual property protection?
Can they name three patent attorneys and more to the point, do they own any patents in their own right with products of their own creation?
These are critical questions.
Credibility – The best test.
There is little point in engaging an innovation consultant who has not actually been involved in real products and commercialisation. If not, then one must question their claims in this business.
Ask your prospective innovation consulate about the new products they have for themselves created, patented and more to the point made money from.
Does you expert at innovation consulting actually do innovation themselves or do they just teach?
In other words, would you prefer the organ grinder or the monkey?
Investments in innovation training and innovation consulting can be substantial. Before you engage any company to assist you in bring innovation to the fore and making innovation happen, please explore the above questions.