It’s been three weeks since one of the largest advertising agencies dismissed me and my team; the innovation facilitator between the group and its clients.
Believe it or not, I hate the word innovation. It’s included in two of my job titles, and it irritates me. Not because it’s not important, but because it should be fundamental. Liri Andersson, founder of ‘this fluid world’ once said to me whilst we worked on her digital report with INSEAD:
[quote]Why do we have heads of digital? When electric was discovered in the nineteenth century, we didn’t have “head of electricity?”[/quote]
The point Liri made was that digital shouldn’t be just part of a business or agency. It should run through its very veins. I feel the same way about innovation.
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An Innovation Department is like a Rolex watch. It’s not necessarily needed, but looks really good to clients, and is hugely valuable.
What i mean by this is, it’s not necessarily needed because an innovation department shouldn’t exist. Innovation should be as much of the PR team as the senior management. But sadly innovation isn’t running through the veins of organisations, and that’s why we’re the solution.
Just like a Rolex watch is there to impress your friends or clients, as is an innovation department. It’s a way to show success. It’s why there is currently a ton of smaller agencies trying to imitate what we’ve been successfully doing for the last nine years.
I’ll admit that Innovation Departments don’t have a direct way to make money – that’s their flaw. But they are hugely valuable, particularly in global agencies. With thousands of people working all over the world on hundreds of clients, it’s impossible to be synchronised. Having a hub that connects the dots isn’t valuable in the slightest, it’s invaluable.