A while ago, I heard a story that even in the biggest companies of the world, the only innovation taking place is a result of the sales department asking for it.
Besides that, there is no innovation taking place. It's only done to fulfill a gap in the market discovered by the sales people.
What drives innovation?
I have no idea if it's true, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is.
Not a week goes by where I don't wonder why certain products ever see the light of day. Any decent amount of innovation would have done a much better job.
But that's the free market, and we can't deny the importance of sales for driving a business.
The question is, if it should drive innovation? Can it?
It made me think about an example given by Steve Jobs in an interview about his visit to Xerox PARC in Palo Alto in 1979.
It was the innovation lab of Xerox back then, and on that visit Steve Jobs encountered the mouse, the graphical user interface, and object-oriented programming for the first time.
He was blown away by it, and he set himself on the course of innovating new products based on those inventions.
As a result, the Macintosh was created in 1984, and the Apple we know today is a direct result of that choice.
His point in the interview, however, was that Xerox could have been a world leader in the computer industry. All it required was taking a bit more notice of their own inventions.
But they didn't, and the reason was that the company was led by sales people. The top management of Xerox simply wasn't interested in innovation, unless it gave them a fulfillment opportunity here and now.
Lead with innovation
It's an important lesson in a time when innovation is the currency of the future more than ever.
The time we live in is all about integrating new radical innovations, and we have to do it at blazing speeds to be competitive.
In my opinion, we have to turn the argument around and say that there is no time to only focus on sales. Innovation must spearhead every single strategic decision.
Seeing the future
The truth is that innovation is about more than having a research and development department.
Even if it takes up 30 percent of the company's budget, it's no guarantee it will invent something great if it's purely sales driven.
Innovation is essentially about seeing the future before anyone else, and it begins on the individual level.
Just like it began for Apple with Steve Jobs.
The key to innovation
The point of the argument is that there is a key to innovation, which we tend to forget when we focus on sales.
It is this,