Innovation - the Art of Failing

We’re all still experimenting with, and trying to define exactly what ‘innovation’ means. No matter where in theadvertising industry you sit, be that integrated agency, client side or a start-up, how ‘innovation’ is perceivedand its future role is yet to be agreed.

In today's world where everything must be neatly packaged or listed under a specific genre, the notion of ‘innovation’ has refused to offer itself a simply placed definition. It has been applied to incubating start-ups, creating products and applications for clients todeveloping immersive AR experiences… and everything in-between.

However, two things are key to establishing innovation within an organisation and helping it thrive.

Firstly, regardless of what the ‘innovation’ actually is, itmust be grounded in robustly researched business or consumer needs in order to deliver behaviour change and meet a purpose.

Secondly, culture is the biggest barrier to innovation within an organisation. Or conversely, presents the single biggest opportunity to unlock it. ‘Innovation’ is an inherently risky business. Sometimes it simply doesn’t work or won’t work as you hoped. The key is for the organisation’s culture to support those failures and see them as opportunities to improve, optimise and make the next iteration better. Not to finger point and scapegoat.

Case in point. Organisations that have a history of successful innovation, such as NASA (a government institution for goodness sake), Google and Nike, have this approach at their heart. They constantly push the envelope and learn, take Google Glass, and we’re learning from example. On the back of a Coca-Cola brief to bring happiness to the world (simple) we built a computer inside a can, by taking advantage of Coca Cola’s vast logistics infrastructure we brought computersto the masses in developing countries. Our social team are tinkering with kit like Drones and we have demonstrated the use of augmented reality for our clients – all with varying success! However, the element that consistently rewards is a strong test and learn strategy; even if we don’t achieve primary objectives we still learn from the project to ensure greater chance of success for the next.

As an industry we have the smarts of our people, dataand insights. We are able to bring together a range of skill sets from a diverse set of backgrounds. If we embrace this culture of innovation, to inspire each other, the future of the industry goes way beyond the traditionally accepted remit of advertising and moves into the realm of behavioural change, product creation, and fundamentally business transformation.

Paul Blundell is director of interactive & innovation at FCB Inferno

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.