AMBASSADOR BLOG: An Innovation Wish for 2016
For some, you are already sorted when it comes to innovation and you’re already doing everything you can to get and stay ahead. You’ve achieved the position that many wish for and strive for. Take a moment to congratulate yourselves as innovation leaders in your field!
But many companies strive to do better – the majority of firms.
The end of the year and the start of a new one is an opportunity to pause. Let’s reflect on Innovation in 2015 and perhaps start making some resolutions for 2016…
Innovation 2015: Same Coin, Two Halves
I was struck that the innovation landscape is for many a contrast of two halves.
On one hand the Boston Consulting Group’s report The Most Innovative Companies 2015 again cites the criticality of innovation to drive company renewal and growth. As in previous editions 80% of execs said innovation was a “top 3 item on the management agenda.”
It reveals the traits of Innovation Leaders as being ahead on 4 fronts:
- Speed: They’re fast in picking up signals to launching products.
- Processes: They run well focussed R&D processes with new technologies high on the agenda.
- Technology: They build technology platforms and exploit them well using IT as an accelerator to turn Big Data into Big Wisdom.
- Systematic: They approach innovation systematically rather than as an event by searching and exploration with deliberation.
The second half from PA Consulting “Innovation as Unusual” cited the state of the UK innovation nation. That while two thirds of bosses say innovation is important, the behaviour of their organizations tells a mostly different story, of course with notable exceptions.
Plug the Innovation Gaps in 2016?
The last few years have been a challenging time for innovation in our company. We’ve repeatedly said it’s vital to our growth, but we’ve had a number of project misfires and we need to do something different. Our business has become so complicated, and we’re starting to forget what we know.
Here are my thoughts – can we pick them up in the New Year?
- Innovation Pipeline running empty: Maybe we can seek new ideas beyond our usual incremental innovation? Innovation Leaders seem to organize themselves for more radical solutions to our customer needs. Building our innovation engine will make us fitter and improve our year-on-year business results.
- Revisit our Innovation Mission: Our innovation strategy is quite frankly pulling us all in different directions. We’re in danger of even more project misfires and you know where that will lead! Can we get some help to step back and take a fresh look on our innovation strategy?
- Toxic Culture: It’s a strong word, I know. But with recent hires and signals from management we’ve drifted into a situation where our culture is closing down to new approaches. Maybe we can do more of that Open Innovation thing that’s creating improved results for our competitors?
- Better Innovation Projects: We really need a better way of selecting fewer, stronger projects and training our teams to work better together. I’ve got some ideas about improving the portfolio selection and trying out that Discovery Driven stuff I’ve read about for the very new transformative innovations. What have we got to lose?
- Staff Training: I heard from a conference speaker, and he said that “the innovation management toolkit is an essential foundation for high performance”. But none of our teams have ever had any formal innovation management training – and that includes you guys! There’s also some cool IT I heard about to help manage the fuzzy front end… Let’s give them a call.
- Smart Partnering: Sometimes I despair of our innovation partners – they take so much time to manage – like the cat herders. But we need companies like them, because we can’t do it all ourselves and you keep telling me to do innovation faster, cheaper and a higher quality. Maybe we need help to work out our system for Open innovation?
- Creative Leadership: I read that “creativity is the leader’s secret weapon.” But I wouldn’t describe our approach as very creative at all. If he’s right and creativity is key trait of the 21st Century leader, we could do with some help on this front.
Well, that’s all from me. There’s some food for thought.
Rob Munro is Innovation Ambassador for Fast Forward Growth.
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