Beware of Automated Innovation Tools

You can now automate all your innovations. It’s pretty cool. Pipelines, collaborations, the team on the same page. In just a few hours, okay, maybe days, voila! You’ll know where to play, how to play and exactly how to execute. Toss in a side salad of Artificial Intelligence (lovely marketing term that is) and wow, now your company is innovating like mad bees making more honey than ever.

What you’re actually doing is adding another tool, platform or software into your already complex technology stack, distracting your team and helping the major consulting firms figure out how to bill you for more hours. Your team, or mix of teams, feels good for ticking boxes. Nothing gets done.

All these innovation apps and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools do is try to turn innovation into a process. Innovation has never been a process. It’s an outcome. Innovation can’t be automated. Not even with Artificial Intelligence.

Innovation isn’t a pipeline either. There are some excellent innovation tools, but they are mental models anfd methodologies. Not apps. They’re tools in a toolbox that get pulled out and applied, by humans, as needed.

There are various apps and services that can be very effectively used. There are some ways that AI tools like ChatGPT can be used as well. But all within the context of a very human process.

Innovation is uniquely human. Design Thinking is an example of a methodology, but it is very social by nature and well, design. 

Most innovation apps want to fit you into a process funnel. Their way or the digital highway. It’s an allure of a cost-effective way to suddenly create an astounding innovation. Except it never works that way.

It also depends on where in the business you’re looking to innovate. Automation tools don’t differentiate by innovation elements. They can’t work across the organisation and they’re not good at combining different areas that lead to an innovation.

What none of them do either, is give you a change management plan. A true innovation results in a change. Whether that be your profit model, customer experience or process innovation. That means humans will be impacted and humans will have to implement and manage whatever that innovation is. It’s a convenient gap overlooked, on purpose, by innovation apps.

A KanBan board is not an innovation tool either. It’s good for ideation and task/project management. That’s about it. Braineet tries to distill innovation down to Kansan boards and spreadsheets. That’s an illusion.

Some of these automation tools go so far as to call it an “Operating System” for innovation. We call that digital snake oil. You just end up paying for a SaaS tool that gets used once or twice and is forgotten about. That’s not innovation.

Don’t forget, humans run your business, not technology. Humans buy your products and services, not machines. Humans do weird things. After all, business would be perfect without human customers wouldn’t it? 

Innovations are likely to remain very much a human thing for a long time yet. Until we’re all languishing on couches watching streaming series created by bots while a robot serves us coffee or beer.

Until then, be human.

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