Processes are an integral part of the innovation chain. The right process keeps an idea on track toward realisation; the wrong one can suffocate it at birth. The discovery phase is particularly sensitive to overbearing controls. “If there is one device that has destroyed more innovation than any other, it is Six Sigma,” Mark Fishman, President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, told the Harvard Business Review. Attempts to reduce variability and impose standardisation can hamper if not derail creative idea generation. “Efficient models make good sense for the middle and end stages of the innovation process,” Fishman says, “when the game has moved from discovery to control and reliability.” That said, the ultimate goal is to complete the innovation loop, which means a sharp focus on execution and feedback. “The harsh reality is that most ideas never happen,” Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance, told Australian audiences this week. Belsky, a former Goldman Sachs & Co associate turned entrepreneur, is an execution zealot. His best-seller, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the obstacles between vision and reality, distils years of insights from working with and alongside ‘creatives’. His basic premise: people get addicted to generating new ideas, run out of puff during the arduous execution phase, and return to idea generation to regain the high. “Ideas are sexy. Execution? Not so much – this is a conundrum,” he says. The solution? Capable leadership, supportive networks, strong organisational skills and an overriding “bias to action”.