A few days ago, I was reminded of how economists often categorize quantities into two main types: stock and flow. Stock refers to static quantities, while flow represents rates of change. For example, products in inventory represent stock, while orders and deliveries represent flow. Similarly, the movies available on Netflix constitute stock, whereas the number of streams and views represents flow. You get the idea.

When it comes to innovation, many companies focus primarily on flow. They invest in seminars, trainings, meet-ups, hackathons, and various initiatives where people are constantly moving, launching new ideas, and experimenting. However, very few take the time to assess their stock.

Consider this: most of the innovation tools and frameworks that resonate with corporations are about flow. They're easy to understand and provide seemingly rapid results. Also? They often lack depth, scalability, or real impact. They only create the illusion of progress without actually producing tangible results. While ideas may be generated and activities may be initiated, very few end up leading to tangible outcomes or products. Flow over stock.

Interestingly, some of these popular tools and approaches are now trending downward. IDEO is scaling back its design thinking activities, and your corporate incubator has been rebooted for the Nth time. The flow of innovation seems to be drying up.

So, what's next? How many decision-makers in the industry are truly committed to mapping out comprehensive threats in their market and developing tailored innovation strategies for the short, medium, and long term? Who is willing to venture into the realm of real innovation, where not only risk cannot be fully mitigated, but rather fuelled and leveraged?

From my perspective, flow is very much OK. It helps separate the noise of customers who engage in innovation theater from those who are genuinely committed to achieving things and building stock.

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