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Businesses The Almighty Buck Technology

54% of CEOs Dissatisfied With Innovation 210

athloi writes "Invention is new and clever; innovation is a process that takes knowledge and uses it to get a payback. Invention without a financial return is just an expense. Ideas are really the sexy part of innovation and there's rarely a shortage of them. If you look at the biggest problems around innovation, rarely does a lack of ideas come up as one of the top obstacles; instead, it's things like a risk-averse culture, overly lengthy development times and lack of coordination within the company. Not enough ideas, on the other hand, is an obstacle for only 17 percent. At the end of the day all that creativity and all those ideas have to show on the bottom line. The goal of innovation is to make or save money, and IT should never lose sight of that central fact."
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54% of CEOs Dissatisfied With Innovation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:23AM (#20433807)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 )
      Agreed. Guess what? Not every idea will turn into a short-term, high-return product/service/etc. CXO positions (I know, I generalize here) rarely understand this. The days of real R&D (Bell Labs anyone) are long gone.
      • Bell Labs was run by whom?

        Oh yeah, a monopolist with absurd margins.

        Only businesses with insane margins can afford dedicated R&D like Bell Labs. For most companies, R&D is a luxury.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by metlin ( 258108 )
          Working in the R&D labs of a baby-Bell, we get told this all the time (i.e. innovation without monetary benefit is meaningless).

          We still get to do cool stuff and every once in a while, we have something that gets monetized. But for the most part, we work on cool stuff and the demos keep the management happy.
        • "Absurd" is subjective, but I agree in principle. Microsoft has it's MS Research group. Google does a large amount of research (although it's restricted to the data organization/search space). Both companies have huge margins according to their SEC filings. So what's wrong with that? My problem is with CEOs that demand innovation with small R&D budgets. It doesn't happen. Innovation/R&D is a "try and fail" method, thereby causing it to cost a lot. If you don't have the margins to do R&D, don't b
          • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @12:30PM (#20434255) Journal
            Do they really?

            From my experience, in a lot of companies, they just don't want to innovate.

            Doing the exact same thing with a computer application instead of a typewritten form isn't innovation. I'm sorry, it just isn't. An optimization that doesn't change the process at all, isn't it. Innovation is when you figure that you can turn the process upside down, and do things like they _weren't_ done before. When Ford figured out he'd use an assembly line instead of the old fashioned way, that was innovation. If Ford had just hired a faster courier boy to carry the forms from one beancounter to another (which is what a lot of computer apps really are today: just a faster way to do the exact same thing with the same people), that would be at most a straightforward optimization.

            But when you want to shake up the process, you run into a lot of managers and egos which would be displaced by the new version. And there in a lot of places is where it fails. Try explaining to someone that his function will lose some power or prestige when your cool new system goes online, and see what kind of disproportionate resources he'll mobilize against it. Or try explaining to an old dog that he must learn new tricks, and see real resistance in action.

            Remember, a lot of these are guys who know how to backstab, brownnose or make backroom deals, when they need to. In a lot of cases that's the only skill that got them there in the first place. If you think they'll just bend over and take it just because a techie figured out how to displace them, you may be surprised.

            So what will happen in a lot of places is that they don't really want innovation. They want to keep their power and influence intact, and keep doing things like they were always done. With a computer, maybe, but nevertheless in the exact same way.

            If the old process required that a form doesn't even have a registration number before a beancounter uses his stamp to give it one, don't be surprised if the requirement for the computer version says the record may not have an ID until the beancounter gives it one. That's his "power" there: he's the guy (or the boss of the guy) who gives registration numbers. He's not going to give that up. (Don't laugh, I've actually been in a team which implemented exactly that. We actually had a hidden unique ID, while the one assigned by the beancounter was only for display purposes.)

            That's not innovation.

            The budget is an excuse there. In a lot of places, the budget isn't even really calculated as in "what can we get for how much money", but a function of:

            - corporate politics and petty wars and power grabs between heads of departments

            - the product of some inflexible regulations (e.g., if in the last year you used only X dollars, you automatically get that. Whether there's actually an ROI in it or not. And a lot goes into _waste_, not R&R, because a penny saved is a penny cut next from your budget next year.)

            - the result of some new boss pissing on everything to mark his territory (e.g., he'll show everyone who's boss by pointless half-baked restructuring games and budget reorganization, not because he actually studied what needs to be done with that money, but just to mark his new territory.) This goes especially well with the previous situation.


            Note that in the above I've said "many" or "a lot", but not "all". Yeah, there still are sane places. On the other hand, like Scot Adams put it recently, we seem to have harnessed the power of stupidity: at any given time, 90% of society's resources are pushed off a cliff by morons. It makes one wonder.
            • These places are the dinosaurs. They get eaten.
              • Colin Smith: These places are the dinosaurs. They get eaten.

                If they get eaten, it's by bigger dinosaurs. Meanwhile, they're crushing the tiny little herbivores under their enormous stump-like feet by the dozens.

                Even if they're slow, the only things that can really take down the biggest dinosaurs are old age, starvation, and lightning.

            • While I'd agree with most of what you said, I think it has more to do with how business units see the IT side of their business.

              In many companies, IT is used to build tools to support pre-existing processes and not recommend changes to the processes. (This is generally a good thing, as it requires the business folks to provide IT with requirements and details of how they want IT to support said processes.) However, this often delegates IT to a supporting role, one that is used to provide stability and min
            • It sure sounds like where I work at :-)

              I'd like to expand on this theme. At my place, lots and lots of underemployed groups of programmers keep spitting out the same products, but under new "web service" protocols. Why? PHBs and CEOs hear about how cool web services are from trade magazines, so these groups deliver products that has buzz words the CEOs want to hear. So we just don't transfer a file anymore, we use a web service instead. No new functionality, just buzz words.

              When one group DOES actually
        • It goes further than that. As a monopoly, AT&T had to constantly ingratiate itself to the federal government. Bell Labs was a part of that. While little of Bell Labs' research had a lot to do with running a telephone system (true, most of the computer systems were invented to replace switchboard operators), a great deal of it had military applications. The Bell monopoly lasted as long as it did because Bell Labs was a bargaining chip.
        • huh, since when has there been a lack of companys with insane margins? There's lots of companys with money out there.
    • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @12:12PM (#20434155)
      No budget to work with. Few quality (i.e. expensive) employees. No wonder they are dissatisfied with innovation.

      If they want innovation, they need to understand not all ideas pay out. It's not unlike venture capital - it takes money to make money and not everything hits paydirt.

      As long as CEOs keep wanting to do this crap on the cheap, they will be dissatisfied with the results.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kimvette ( 919543 )
      Following upon that, it is said that 90% of business fail in the first year. Clearly engaging in business and is just an expense/cost center, so stop founding businesses.

      How many new products fail? Look at Zune, and look at the iPod. Apple NAILED the dedicated portal media player with the iPod by giving it an excellent UI and GUI, (limited) cross-platform compatibility, and released a storefront/download/media management suite which not only adheres to quasi-open, de-facto standards such as MP3, but incorpo
  • by swamp boy ( 151038 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:29AM (#20433833)
    This is no surprise to me. In my company (name withheld), innovation is given lip service only. New ideas are frowned upon and generally rebutted with "that's not the way we do things around here" or the cynicism of "they would never go for that". I believe that the IT management in my company only does what makes them look good for their own personal gain (promotion, bonuses, etc.) and see very little evidence of pushing things that will help the company (and our customers). If it's not a "safe" solution (Sun, IBM, or "blessed" by Gartner), then it's not something to be taken seriously.
    • by rumblin'rabbit ( 711865 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:59AM (#20434071) Journal
      Ideas are - in some ways - the easy part. You also have to
      • Make the ideas work within the existing framework.
      • Show how to move from the old method to the new method.
      • Convince people it's to their benefit.
      Many innovators lack the above skills. They think that once they've performed some "innovation" their job is over, and thus get extremely frustrated when it's subsequently (and predictably) ignored, saying things like "innovation is given lip service". Of course, to make the above work, the researcher would have to get down and dirty and actually talk to the end users to find out about the real world.
      • by sane? ( 179855 )

        Or to look at it from another direction, the actual creative part of the process, coming up with new ideas, works well. However when it comes to MBA types getting their head out of their arse for more than two seconds at a time, if all falls down. Somehow its supposed to be the responsibility of the person who came up with the idea to force the uptake of it through, against opposition from those same MBAs, and to receive nothing from it at the end of the process if they happen to be successful.

        You want the

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nwbvt ( 768631 )

        "Ideas are - in some ways - the easy part."

        I know plenty of people who come up with crappy ideas but who can market them effectively. In the best case scenarios, those ideas only waste the resources that were diverted to fund them. In the worst case scenarios, those ideas hurt everyone who were tricked or forced into embracing them. So yes, coming up with ideas is easy. Coming up with good ideas is hard.

        "Of course, to make the above work, the researcher would have to get down and dirty and actually

        • Or do you expect employees to develop and market innovative ideas on their own time without support from management?

          I don't expect them to do full-scale marketing, but I do expect them to do more than many of them do now, with or without the support of management. If a researcher said to his/her boss "I'll be away from my desk today talking to the users or marketing to find out what the real problems are", few bosses would object. And if they do object, then the employee should either do it without askin

          • by nwbvt ( 768631 )

            "If a researcher said to his/her boss "I'll be away from my desk today talking to the users or marketing to find out what the real problems are", few bosses would object."

            Actually, virtually all would. First, most communications with the customer are done through specific channels, primarily to avoid pissing off the customer (most people would not like it if they got dozens of phone calls from random employees from a company they just bought something from), casting the product in a bad light (if you we

            • When talking to customers, naturally one goes through marketing or whoever handles the customer. But what's wrong with them saying to a customer "we want to take you out to lunch and have one of our researchers talk to you about your concerns"? I've often done that, and clients are generaly thrilled that (1) they are getting a free lunch, (2) they can talk directly to a researcher, and (3) someone is actually concerned about their problems and priorities. Slip of the tongues aren't a concern if you spend mo
              • by nwbvt ( 768631 )

                "When talking to customers, naturally one goes through marketing or whoever handles the customer. But what's wrong with them saying to a customer "we want to take you out to lunch and have one of our researchers talk to you about your concerns"?"

                Having marketing carefully arrange meetings between customers and research and development is one thing. An engineer suddenly announcing to their boss that they are taking the day off to go bug customers (like you suggested they do) is completely different.


    • by glueball ( 232492 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @12:09PM (#20434131)
      If it's not a "safe" solution (Sun, IBM, or "blessed" by Gartner), then it's not something to be taken seriously.

      No, it will be taken and weighed against the vendors. How one presents an idea to management will likely be what is not taken seriously.

      Sun, IBM, etc all have solutions and they work. They are packaged, supported, planned, installed, warranted, and documented. How do you present your stellar ideas to management? In a dusty old computer that reeks of "homebuilt", a cheesy black and white Powerpoint presentation, no plan for failure, no support structure, no redundancy, no analysis (as in a real B-school style analysis) of cost structure and other lost opportunity to compare your idea to a professional idea?

      This is what I see when a brilliant idea comes out of IT. Half baked, kool-aid drinking engineers reapplying another bug ridden Linux tool convinced that their idea is the best simply because they conjured it themselves and on the face it seems cheaper.

      Spend a few minutes and package your idea. Bell Labs developed ideas well because they thought them through obsessively and not because they were presented and accepted at the half-baked stage of development.

      I'm not saying that half baked ideas are bad. Not at all. It's simply that a half baked idea cannot be evaluated well against a fully supported (vendor) idea. In a fear-driven shareholder environment, a well thought out plan of a good idea trumps a crappy brilliant idea every time.

      • by nwbvt ( 768631 )
        Every idea starts out as a half baked idea. It takes a lot of work to fully develop them, which is hard to do without support from management. If management expects their employees to magically present them with fully developed ideas and well done business analysis (prepared by people with likely no business school training) for them to simply bless, they are in for a disappointment.
        • they are in for a disappointment.
          No, they aren't. If your idea isn't worth your time and investment, it sure as hell isn't worth theirs.

          I know it's a lot of work. First hand.

          There is nothing that says you can't go to management and say "Hey, I've got this idea, it's fully disclosed, I'd like to learn how to productize it. Is there someone who can help me go through the process so that it's exactly the way you want it? I want to create a market analysis, a 5P chart, and make a few calls to customers to s
          • by nwbvt ( 768631 )

            "No, they aren't. If your idea isn't worth your time and investment, it sure as hell isn't worth theirs."

            First of all, as has been pointed out several times in this thread, I can't profit from the idea at all, only the company can. So arguing whether or not it is worth my time is just dumb. It is quite likely something that could increase the company's profits by 10% would not be worth it to me to give up my weekends for the next 6 months in an effort to pursue it, but certainly would be worth it for t

    • Right. The chief problem is that innovation has to be seen, so you need the space and the freedom to actually do new things. Talking about innovation convinces nobody but those with an innovative or visionary personality already. Others have said it better, but innovation usually happens best in the form of a new upstart enterprise, rather than within an existing structure, so innovation needs lots of startups. I actually wish corporations could more easily be structured like a movie production, where you o
    • "that's not the way we do things around here"

      I came across the mother of all "that's just how we have always done it" stories the other day.

      The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.
      Why was that gauge used?
      Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads.
      Why did the English build them like that?
      Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad

      • by achacha ( 139424 )
        The QWERTY keyboard is a real example, it was done that way to keep the mechanical typewriters from jamming by effectively slowing you down.
      • As of 1880 or so, there were a total of 12 railroad gauges. It may be that you can trace the 4'8.5" number to a roman warhorse, but I'd doubt it. More likely, that's just what won out. Now all we need is a passenger train network built to european specs (so we can use their trains) and we'll have a good part of our transportation problems solved - if you can travel from NYC to Chicago to SF in a day or two without using much gas (use coal/electricity) or NYC to DC in 2-3 hours, then our oil dependency becom
  • Shit World 2007 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:29AM (#20433841) Journal
    The goal of innovation is to make or save money

    As is the goal of fucking to have babies, as is the goal of eating to take a shit, as is the goal of living to die.

    Goals are over rated. Some of us still value the process and the effort.
    • by ect5150 ( 700619 )

      Goals are over rated. Some of us still value the process and the effort.

      If this is truly the case, come work for me for no paycheck. We'll see how long you truly desire the effort with no reward.

      While you may not be the exception to the rule, the fact stands that when the process has some type of reward (versus your no reward), we wind up having more of it. That way it doesn't matter what your intentions are, sheerly that it got done (where 'it' in this case is more innovation).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by conner_bw ( 120497 )
        I said over rated not irrelevant. So, i'll have to pass on your offer to be exploited.

        The idea that "innovation" and "invention" is merely a conduit to money is as vulgar as my aforementioned examples.

        People don't eat food to defecate. They eat for the pleasure, the experience, the company, and many other reasons.

        Money is a side effect of invention, creativity is the driving force. Creativity has existed long before the CEO. It will exist long after.
        • No. They eat to live with defecation necessary to clear the tract. The other reasons are a layer after the first is satisfied. Go truly hungry for a while and see if you care if the food tastes good or is presented properly.

          You also have the sequence incorrect. Need is the driver of creativity which produces invention. Apes trade things for food (sex) with no invention involved. So no, at the most rudimentary level the CEO came before creativity.
      • Re:Shit World 2007 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by epine ( 68316 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @12:18PM (#20434187)
        If this is truly the case, come work for me for no paycheck.

        Card carrying member of the all-or-nothing crowd? Some of us still value shades of grey. But I can suspend that momentarily.

        While we're in the process of doing a root-canal on human dignity, what is it about human nature that connects such a worthless rejoinder directly to the kneecap? A lot of people in history have worked for no paycheck, and there's a name for that, although it's hard to get creative work out of people under those conditions.

        Fast forward history from the primal snarl, the dilemma arises where one profit-oriented sweatshop industrialist finds himself undercut by an even more ruthless profit-oriented sweatshop industrialist. He needs an edge. Maybe even an idea. But where to get such a thing? He certainly can't produce one himself, that might cut into his ego-maintenance time. No, his only recourse is to shackle himself a golden goose, one of those notorious flakes who has not fully and properly internalized the value that life is all about money.

        Or if not money, honor. For example, if I work a machine shop and lose my hand, I get compensation. If I work for the military and I lose my life, I get a flag. The military has a similar never-ending connundrum: how to recruit without paying people commensurate to the risk and sacrifice involved. Amp up the service and loyalty and nation-under-threat rhetoric. It works for business too. Just amp up the "it's all about money", or bare a fang while leering "come work for free", and play it up as a fair rejoinder. The rhetoric "it's all about money" does not speak to money, it speaks to subordination, and primal greeds satisfied by one person controlling another. Any person who goes around reminding others of their primal needs is all about control. I once witnesses a person purporting to be an angel investor who came into the meeting room and filled an entire white-board with the two words: FEAR and GREED. That was on there the whole time he spoke, and another week afterwards. We were too intimidated to erase it.

    • Re:Shit World 2007 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:57AM (#20434051) Homepage Journal
      I think you have it mixed up. The goal of running a business is to make money. If innovating helps you make money, then that's great. If it doesn't help make money, then there's little point for the business to take part in it. Innovating can give you an edge with the competition, but it's an endless cycle, so the edge is often short-lived.
      • by bit01 ( 644603 )

        The goal of running a business is to make money.

        No, the goal of a business is to have a fun, interesting and worthwhile life. Money is just an, albeit important, tool to that end.


        It's not piracy, it's sharing. Didn't your parents teach you to share?

    • I thought the "goal" of eating was to, well, not die. And I didn't think living had a goal, really. I think you're confusing goal with final outcome...
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )
      That's great if you're trying to figure out what to do with your life. But if I'm sitting in management trying to figure out how much of my budget to allocate to innovation, I won't be the one doing or feeling the "process and the effort". Technically I'm not even interested in the deliverables, because I'm not a end user and scientific research is something the rest of the world can do. I just want to know how much this will affect my bottom line - if it makes or saves money.

      If I go out to the store and bu
      • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

        Technically I'm not even interested in the deliverables, because I'm not a end user and scientific research is something the rest of the world can do. I just want to know how much this will affect my bottom line - if it makes or saves money.

        Just so. And this is what makes America great.

        Or so I'm told.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Joe Tie. ( 567096 )
        If I go out to the store and buy milk and bread, do I really care how the "process and the effort" was for the people producing it? Nah, I want to know how it hits my wallet.

        This post is the single most alien thing I've ever read on slashdot. How can you possibly not wonder about that? You even go so far as to glorify your own ignorance of the world around you?
        • by Rakishi ( 759894 )
          And I assume you do? I assume that every time you buy milk you do a detailed analysis of not just the company but the exact branch/location that supplied that milk. In turn you also go and visit them so as to interview the employees in person. Right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drsquare ( 530038 )
      Then pay for it yourself. Seriously, become a CEO in a company, or start your own company. Then you can throw money around however you want, but you'll be responsible for the consequences.
    • "Goals are over rated. Some of us still value the process and the effort."

      The problem is not with goals, it's with the market ** ducks **. The truth is if profit was not such a factor, many creative and great ideas would finally come to fruition, the problem is we don't have infinite resources. I'd like to be the first to say that: Our quest for profit distorts and also hinders our quest for progress in some areas as much as it helps in others.

  • Innovation must also solve a problem with the status quo (even if only not perfectly perceived). Big Picture Executives and Chief Lieutenants get into discussions all day about "we could do this", and later learn that it has a complex side effect. If the side effect is solved, innovate. If the side effect is worse than the original problem, then that idea has to be parked for some length of time until the atmosphere changes and it can be revisited.
  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <greg@gksnetworks.com> on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:32AM (#20433857) Homepage
    If they were so worried about innovation, they'd let their employees use it (I'm talking from an IT perspective here). At my last job, we had good solutions in place to do things cheaper, faster, and better (yup, all three). But management insisted on leaving that system to go with a vendor's solution that used canned products to 'solve' the problem for a lot more cost and effort. And it never worked well.

    Fast forward to today. I'm interviewing for jobs. Every single company I interview with doesn't care what my aptitude is, or what I can do to help the business use technology to give them a great ROI on technology while solving their problems. They only care "Do you know product X?"

    So, my own experience shows me that CEO's certainly don't give a crap about innovation. Or, if they do, their IT managers certainly aren't following their vision (actually, I do think that is probably the case, as I saw some evidence of that at the last company after each quarterly meeting where I'd agree with what the CEO wanted to do, but my own management would always go down the buy the canned solution that doesn't work so well path).
    • by ardor ( 673957 )
      Well, conducting many interviews calls for some streamlining, don't you think? Asking for product X is easier and faster than in-depth conversation..
    • Every single company I interview with doesn't care what my aptitude is, or what I can do to help the business use technology to give them a great ROI on technology while solving their problems.

      Amazon cares. Sure, we want people to know java and c++, but we hire for basic smarts and aptitude, because we've internalized that today's hot! new! thing! is tomorrows awful legacy product. Projects are approved based on ROI to the company, so being able to tell your potential boss how you saved your last gig $50

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )
      As somebody has pointed out already there are benefits to canned solutions. One is that vendors often implement "best practices" in their software, so organizing work processes around the software instead of the other way around can sometimes bring efficiencies.

      It really depends on the application and what is available in the marketplace. If you can go with off-the-shelf software and resist the urge to customize the living daylights out of it you can save a TON of cash, and ongoing support costs as well.
  • This alone stifles creativity and innovation.....

    Perhaps they should get a fucking clue?
    • I don't think they are the same.
      The copyright monkeys are in the content creation business.
      The bean counters of this article are in the IT business.
  • At Boston Scientific the new mantra is efficient innovation, brought to you by people who grossly overpaid to purchase innovation (Guidant), to the ruin of all.

  • from TFA:

    Andrew: Innovation is a three-step process: 1. Generate an idea. 2. Commercialize it. 3. Realize the value.

    this guy is a genius.

    If only I had know it was this simple before, I have wasted my career...
  • Well doh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:49AM (#20433989) Homepage
    This smells like basic management consulting stuff
    1. Catch as many ideas as possible
    2. Usually an initial independent review "does this make sense at all?"
    3. Priority process, typically in several stages
    3a) Benefit estimates, cost estimates, risk etc. into a business plan
    3b) More review (alone)
    3c) Prioritizing (total)
    4. Develop quantifiable success metrics
    5. Review resource contraints and select the best project portfolio
    6. Do project implementation
    7. Review project underways
    8. Review compared to success metrics

    Innovation is risk, but risk can be managed. Companies that don't innovate die, so it's not like "not doing it" is an option. I've seen so many bad examples of poor management here, basicly things get started ad hoc based on personal initiatives with no proper review, planning, success criteria or anything. On the other hand, I've seen a few companies that have overdone it though, where the red tape is killing it too. But most companies really crap out on two things: Highly unrealistic business plans which nobody gets smacked for, and starting off projects with little to no regard on "where do we really want to go and is this project taking us in the right direction?".
  • It's not surprising someone who looks at the bottom line a lot is unhappy with innovation which provides sporadic returns. Innovation is often an unknown fiscal endeavour whereas reducing, reusing and recycling your technology -- and sometimes jumping on the popular bandwagons -- is often more fiscally viable. That's why there are layers underneath to the CEO to manage such things. What's next, an article stating 100% of CFOs are not happy with innovation.
  • RTFAd? (Score:5, Informative)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:51AM (#20434009) Homepage Journal
    I know that reading TFA is not a prerequisite for commenting on stories on /., hell it is often regarded as being gay or some other form of highbrow elitism. Those who do it are regarded as know-it-all wise-asses who are flaunting it at the rest of unwashed /. crowds. Even among those who submit the stories and those who push them to the front pages it is now regarded fashionable not to read the text in the original articles but instead make wildly biased 'educated' guesses colored with personal preferences, while trying to describe to the rest of us what it is that the article is insinuating.

    Having said all of the above, I actually RTFAd, so sue me.

    The article mentions that 46% of the 2,468 senior executives surveyed worldwide said that they are satisfied with the return on their innovation spending. The rest are dissatisfied with the returns.

    This has nothing to do with innovation itself, this has to do with the fact that often what is supposed to be innovation (something that is supposed to provide the company with better processes, systems, business and generate income or reduce spending) in reality does nothing of the kind. Often people push their ideas not because they want to innovate, but because they want to spend or they want to do something that is not profitable for the company but satisfies their own interests.

    The article is about waste of money and it is not about CEOs who "don't like" innovations.

    Move along, this is nothing else but the usual 'non-tech' CEO bashing. (Oh, I am not against bashing, but only when there is actually a good point to make. There is nothing of the kind here.)
  • Helloooo???? Anybody home?

    Reality check 101: a CEO's job is to maximize profits. That's all, folks.

    So anything that doesn't bring-in a fat bottom-line right now can't stand a chance.

    • No, a CEO's job is to set the strategic direction and maximize profits over the long term. That's more complicatewd than doing whatever makes the most money right now.
  • In large companies, "innovation" is defined as a VP deciding to switch from one multi-million dollar commercial software package to another, in order to look like something is happening. Large companies tend not to trust their in-house staff to come up with anything. This is why I now work for small companies that can't afford to ignore their employees.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...and it's usually sitting behind the CIO's desk.

    What this is telling us is that we have good ideas, but we're not realizing gains from them.

    Well, some obvious culprits:
    * Poor identification of what ideas will be the ones to generate returns. In a number of large company, the CIO is personally making these decisions, based on proposals that bubble up through several layers of management. That means the person with the idea isn't advocating it, and there are also a number of people in the process who's pr
    • Were you on this planet before "engineering" meant something other than computer software/hardware? In my job I find that "technology" often hinders and/or slows down actual innovation and "real" engineering.
  • Maybe... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lordvalrole ( 886029 )
    They need to stop fucking the little guy over. You start screwing employees out of their royalties or bonuses or benefits. You are going to see a lot less people innovating for these big ass corporations and end up making their own damn products on the side. Only to end up getting sued by every other corporation. This is the major problem with business today. There is too much suing going on for any innovation to go on. It seems to me like all the innovating goes on in colleges that were funded by the gove
  • by SolusSD ( 680489 )
    you mean putting people in charge that don't understand a damn thing about your companies product doesn't breed innovation?
  • "innovation innovation innovation innovation" - everyone is repeating it like parrots. you cant just innovate every f**kin month. even not every f**kin year. before they even start widely using an innovation that is made, management starts crapping around about a 'new innovation'. maybe thats because they are actually not adding any real value to the company and feel like they are doing it when they do the innovation blabbering.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @12:36PM (#20434301) Journal
    It's the kind of research that simply INVENTS new weird shit that is what is so tragically dying in the world of American technology. The Bell Labs of the world are now in the university systems, but they are frequently tied to corporate donors (for better and worse) and are further problematised by society's need to educate people to be something other than simple cogs in the industrial machine - making them well rounded, critically thinking, discerning citizens is also of great importance. As a consequence, the need for innovation in research as downloaded to the level of university destabilises itself over time as time/mind share is increasingly directed to the mercantile demands of the corporate masters.

    This is not a good thing. We need more blue sky deep research - research with NO profit motive - its where the real ground-breaking stuff happens. Keep science away from bean-counters. They will eviscerate it the same way they gutted the Arts and Humanities.


    • Funny this should come up. I just left a company where "innovation" was stated as a core value, except you had better not do any of that unless it was guaranteed to work. The CEO of that place is an accountant and he treats "innovation" as something you sprinkle on mediocre profits to get better ones.

      Inventing things involves taking risk, that the hole you're digging is going to come up dry. That's the way it is; if you could -guarantee- innovation you're much too valuable to be an employee because you'r
  • We keep working so hard to ship all our jobs overseas then these pricks want to say they are dissatisfied with innovation?

    It's no wonder innovation in the US is lacking, severely. I mean, seriously - how many people do you know in the US who have a job where innovation is even allowed? Not many - not many at all. Actually, not many of the people I know even work in information or research fields anymore - all their jobs have been shipped overseas and filled by H1-B visa workers who will work for nearly half
  • others to do?

    The average CEO makes 400 times what their "innovators" do. So, take a cut, apply those dollars toward a return, then grow their salary by percentage of new revenue from innovation, rather than cutting costs.

  • by bitspotter ( 455598 ) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @01:28PM (#20434601) Journal
    "The goal of innovation is to make or save money, and IT should never lose sight of that central fact."

    Within the rather thin, anemic context of profit-seeking enterprises, yes.

    It's been apparent for years, however, that profit-seeking behavior presents one of the greatest obstructions to innovation, whose purpose is to actually help people (and not just "enterprises") to improve their conditions and lives. From proprietary software and web services EULAs, the DMCA and abuse of its takedown notice systems, incessant pointless copyright extensions, to incompetent patent granting system, you don't have to go far to at least reasonably wonder if "the bottom line" is failing to help innovation more than innovation os failing to help generate profits.

    There's a LOT more to life outside the grubbing business world, but judging by the prevalence of people making misleading statements like this, it's easy to forget.
  • The goal of innovation is to make or save money, and IT should never lose sight of that central fact.

    Even if IT doesn't, the customer can. I have one customer...a government entity...that I've worked pretty much the same way I'd treat a private side customer, with an eye toward efficiency and the bottom line. It's bought me nothing there. They spent a million dollars to take a working application developed by three people and give it to a team of 7 from another company to maintain. No fail over, they

  • ... innovation causes change.

    Change requires ongoing management attention.

    Ongoing management attention interferes with their afternoon golf games.
  • I really wish that more of them would care about a job well done and helping humanity...
    • Theoretically if they'd put the overall business health ahead of other concerns, such as their personal greed or, and this is hard for many self proclaimed freemaketers to grasp, ahead of a pack of stockholders only looking for a quick buck, the good things will arise from the general prosperity. I know the Left refuses to abandon their "Prosperity = Evil" religion, but that's the way it is. You get that plus the Right's "Quick Gain = Holy Grail" and the whole thing is a mess.

      Summary: ideologies are mental
      • I was going to say something similiar. You think the teenage kid at McDonalds enjoys being humuliated by his customers? OR does he work there to get money for school or for a car? What about the custodian cleaning your office?

        Yes we all do things for money. Its the most efficient reward that works better than anything else. Sure some people hate their jobs or whom they work for but most mature folks will simply seek another employer. Thats life and nothing would get done otherwise. If you have a job you enj
        • I never get the "we owe it to the shareholders" mentality. there's two basic shareholder types: 1. Day traders or people looking for a quick buck. If they can even explain what your company does, it's a good day on that front. Fuck those guys. 2. Institutional investors who would probably rather you planned for the long term anyway because *they* do.
  • Motels did not use to have soap in the rooms.

    Imagine today, a hotel that didn't offer little bars of soap.

    that's an innovation, that only COST money..
    and continues to do so today...

    is it a bad innovation or a necassary one?

  • The article is a bit self-limiting because it pertains only to IT related innovation. Yet, some of the points raise may just as well be extended to other technology domains.

    My experience says that for the vast majority of companies, business finances overwhelm every other facet of the business. And that is not at all unexpected - if you want to remain alive, you have to watch where your money goes and comes from. However, going beyond this conventional logic, I've also noticed that even well established com
  • Innovation and entering or even creating new markets can lead to a company becoming defocused and stretched too thin when those new markets do not compliment its core competencies. Your software company would never consider entering the coal mining drilling rig market even if you came to your CEO with a proposal for the most safe and efficient coal mining drilling rig ever conceived, not even if he or she believed it.

    Innovation within an existing market that your company dominates in marketshare can lead to
  • Intense and interesting spread "54% of CEOs Dissatisfied With
    Innovation" ... "97% of Innovators Dissatisfied with CEOs"
    and the problem is Businesses Management (BM) of The Almighty Science/Technology Budget.

    Invention is a tangible result, which was intuitively created by the actions of a genius.
    Innovation is the introduction of something new [make changes] into anything established.

    Leadership is about vision, prescience, experience, and the genius to create real measurable success.
    BM is about tangible, meas
  • Raiding pension funds, getting outrageous "bonuses", cutting worker salaries, firing Americans to hire foreigners, gutting healthcare, "letting people go" on the eve or retirement, "downsizing" and generally making America a really lousy place to be a worker!
  • ...just don't come whining back to us researchers when your product roadmap dries up because you consider "innovation" unnecessary overhead!
  • I've known several CEO's of large companys, not fortune 500 but still multi billion dollar companys all the same. None of them have ever had a clue about how their own company works. But that in itself isn't a huge issue, CEO's aren't there to micro manage things, they are there to set a GENERAL direction, to meet with investors and make business and money decisions. things like R&D need to be approved on a much lower level, a CEO shouldn't even see the budget for R&D, it would just be a line item o

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost