Here’s an article — Teaching The Old Dog Some New Tricks — that caught my attention simply because of its opening teaser line …

“Business has only two functions: marketing and innovation.”

Now, the author isn’t sure whether he’s quoting management guru Peter Drucker or novelist Milan Kundera, but no matter.

Personally, I think it’s a meaty statement.

First of all, even the strongest of businesses must innovate or die. That applies to nonprofits as well as our for-profit brethren. I hope we have no disagreement there. That’s the message Roger was delivering in his recent post — The Courage To Change — about the American Cancer Society and its disengagement from direct mail acquisition.

Second, the point about marketing.

When I was interviewing years ago for the top marketing/communications job at Environmental Defense, the then-chairman, a former top corporate CEO, told me that as far as he was concerned, a marketer should have his/her hand in everything the organization does … including, in the case at hand, the program (i.e., the product). “Don’t let them tell you what to sell.”

That totally suited my view of things and was exactly what I wanted to hear. [Maybe he knew that!]

I was offered and took the job.

And soon a major donor plunked a sizable chunk on money on the table as an ‘R&D’ fund for our fundraising program. No better invitation to innovate than that!

So maybe I’ve had a charmed life. These two guys said in effect … ‘marketing rules’ and ‘go innovate’.

I was given the room and the means to innovate.

I’d say my Innovation Quotient (made up of one-third desire, one-third mandate and one-third means) in that job was 100 on a scale of 0-100.

What’s your Innovation Quotient? And what can you do to improve it?

Tom

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