Innovation eats the world

Why innovate?

Johann Botha
3 min readJun 9, 2021


If one sees the lack of innovation in most organizations, one realizes this question is not that simple. Organizations and people just don’t innovate!

“Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement and progress.” Theodore Levitt

Why innovate?

The answer seems so obvious at first — if organizations don’t continually adapt their products and services, to serve new needs and requirements customers may have, your organization and its products and services will become irrelevant.

A recent Forrester Research showed that innovation and design-driven organizations outperform their counterparts on the S&P500 by 219% over ten years period. These findings also tie up with the meticulous research of Jim Collins in the book Good to Great and our observations and experience with customers.

“Innovation is eating the world” Jordan Odinsky

Well considering that we previously said that the only way to win is to satisfy the needs and requirements of customers, the best way to do so is to provide solutions that satisfy those needs and do so rapidly.

HOW? By using our creative juices and coming up with innovative solutions that the competitors have not thought about (yet)!

If one, however, sees the lack of innovation in most organizations, you realize this question is not that simple. Organizations and people just don’t innovate!

There are many reasons why organizations don’t innovate, even when they know they should!

Why? Because it’s not easy at first.

The innovation process is fraught with unsuccessful attempts — even worse, once you innovate it virtually always means change and change is painful. This personal and organizational discomfort provides enough drag to keep individuals and organizations alike from innovating.

Most people, if asked, will say that innovation is difficult because it is not a “natural” competency that most people have.

This is an absolute fallacy! You don’t have to be super talented to be innovative.

Anyone can learn how to innovate, and the more you do it, the better you get at it!

So, a lack of talent and skill are not the primary reasons for lack of innovation; it’s just the most common excuse!

We agree that some people are naturally more creative, but what is surprising is that those ‘talented’ and ‘creative types’ fail just as often when innovating as those who are not so talented and creative.

The truth is that Innovation is an acquired skill more than anything else. Successful innovators have ‘cracked the code’ — they are not super talented!

We usually spend three to four days with clients in “master-classes”, and we do the majority of these in a company context. The aim is to teach teams innovation methods and techniques in a practical setting.

It is, however, just as important to recognize, is to direct innovation by the strategy of your organization as if done, it will be infinitely more likely to succeed than non-strategic initiatives.

The implication is that strategy should identify innovation focus. Leaders should create the right environment to maximize the chances of successful innovation! That includes building capacity and capability, and the most important is teaching people how to innovate!

The last word on this subject is from Tom Peters — Innovate or Die! So all of a sudden, our mantra ‘transform or die’ doesn’t sound that innovative at all!

This article is part of a series exploring the use of Agile ADapT™, a Digital Transformation Method for incumbent organizations struggling to compete in the digital age.



Johann Botha

Johann Botha, a digital change provocateur & getITright® CEO. Transform & build organizational agility, & digital-age capabilities. Consultant, speaker & author