We have all seen it, away days, where actions are taken and nothing happens. Or there is a flurry of emails and then it all dies off.

I worked for a company where I was informed that a “new” business had been set up, and was told that the part of the business I was in, “would wither and die”.  The person who told me this resigned a few weeks later. 5 years on the organisation that was supposed to “wither and die” is still there, partly I guess due to the fact it transformed itself.

I’m often approached about a particular London organisation that is seeking new leadership. Seems to be about every 18 months. A cynical person would think that maybe the Bank gets tired of the progress of it’s incubator. Not being cynical I wouldn’t think that, of course.

Does innovation work?


We know here at DLA Ignite the only way to stay ahead of your competitors is to out innovate them. At our recent #DLAIgnite conference we made three announcements that places us clearly ahead of our competition. But, we are a start-up, we know we have to drive innovation.

The problem with innovation is that as soon as you announce that part of your business is an innovation centre, it places the innovation centre as competitor.

Just like Kodak who invented the digital camera, they put it in a cupboard and hoped the whole digital “thing” would go away. Why? Because it was going to kill the rest of the business.

What can companies do?

  1. There has to be leadership from the top. When I get a call about that incubator I always ask for a meeting with the CEO.  Of course, I never get a meeting with the CEO, which is a test on how, in reality the bank thinks of no incubator.  No meeting means it's just another line item on a spreadsheet.
  2. Communication - What’s in it for the employees of the “old company” and what’s in it for the new employees?  This has to be communicated to everybody.
  3. What are the terms of reference for any innovation and how will it be measured? You need to decide how people will focus their time. If there are going to be immeasurables then fine but let's be adult about it.
  4. In addition to that, does innovation mean contribution? You need to be clear.
  5. Celebrate success, decide how you will celebrate success and how you will communicate that to the whole of the business.