If you’re not worrying about the innovation skill gap, maybe you should be.  Four separate sources cite the lack of innovation systems and skills as the #1 worry of CEOs for 2020.

Being on the “innovation front lines” we get the opportunity to see first hand how people at every level in an organization – with great tools, training and systems –  can think smarter, faster and more innovatively. But we also know that’s not normal.  Far from it. In fact, our research has found only 15% of companies are proactive (a key indicator of an innovation culture and company.)  The other 85% are reactive – and busily fighting fires at different levels versus leading their customer and industry with innovation. Innovation skills, tools and systems are not part of the typical work done by all employee in traditional, complex companies.  And that’s clearly a huge barrier to innovation. And while our evidence might be compelling on it’s own, it is overwhelmingly corroborated with studies from Price Waterhouse Coopers, The Conference Board, McKinsey and the World Economic Forum. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018 says by 2022 54%+ of all employees will require significant up-skilling in innovation. McKinsey Quarterly  says 65% of executives lack confidence in their organization’s ability to be innovative. The Conference Board’s 2020 C-Suite Challenge Report calls “Building an innovative culture” is among top-three most pressing internal concerns of 740 CEOs surveyed globally. The Price Waterhouse Coopers  Annual Global CEO Survey states The #1 Concern of CEOs for 2020 is the Innovation Skill Gap. In our near 40 year experience in innovation, the evolution of industry’s reaction to it has been slow.  In the 80s and 90s one would have to make the case that innovation even mattered.  Thanks to the dot.com bust and boom of the early 2000s, innovation became more socialized and accepted.  Now leaders cite it as “table-stakes” for having any confidence that your company will even survive the next decade and the word is littered through strategy documents, mission statements and website “about us” pages. But now the realization of the lack of systems and skills brings it to a finer, clearer point than ever.  The question isn’t whether to innovate.  The question is “how?”