Very insightful post on HBR blogs: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/04/great_innovators_think_lateral.html
To add to the topic I have a few observations of my own on this oft-beaten drum:
More often than not we see the terms “Innovation” and “Center of Excellence” being thrown around, mostly within corporate environments. People are expected to produce innovation outside of context having no clue of the domain or the market. In my experience, albeit limited, I see this more pronounced in Bangalore. it is not difficult for example, to walk around within IT parks in Bangalore and find product managers in product companies who have no idea of the competitive landscape. They are then asked to innovate. In other cases good people are not provided the proper exposure or opportunity and when something becomes a hype they are then asked to jump into the bandwagon and deliver innovation within strict deadlines based solely on what they have learned within the 4 walls of their office building.
This article is a distinct reminder that innovation cannot come out of thin air. It requires study and understanding of the domain, technology, products, existing work/research and insights from adjacent domains. One has to build on the shoulders of others. That also requires time and patience. It is not a factory where you turn a big gear called innovation and ready-made units drop off a conveyor belt at some point.