- Is your organization prepared for innovation?
By Connie Williams
Everybody wants innovation and just about everyone says they are committed to it… just look at actual corporate mission statements of just a sampling of organizations:
“Our core mission is to innovate, create and execute”
“Provide our customers with the world’s best and most innovative products and customer support”
“Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality and commitment”
“To build shareholder value by delivering pharmaceutical and healthcare products, services and solutions in innovative and cost effective ways”
“We will build a unique portfolio of Beauty and related brands, striving to surpass our competitors in quality, innovation and value.”
When everybody talks about the importance of innovation but have little to show for their claims of ardor it’s a sign that organizations, teams and individuals may be missing the fundamentals in their quest to make it happen.
In our experience, relatively few organizations fully know how to accomplish it – because it isn’t about a mission statement – or even the right people or program.
Just putting someone in charge of innovation is not enough. The commitment has to go all the way to the top leadership. And, genuine innovation success has to be more than just cost savings or the latest ‘flavor’ or line extensions – that is just pure good business practice. Companies spend lots of money on innovative systems, innovation processes, Voice of the Customer, Stage Gate programs and employee idea boxes to come up with innovative solutions to their challenges. While those can be useful, they, too, are limited.
- Real innovation — bold, exciting, disruptive — involves so much more than just looking for good ideas. It requires courage and risk taking, which are in short supply in many organizations led by cautious leaders.
- Companies have to meet the needs of customers and consumers beyond what they are able to articulate, rendering surveys and traditional market research ineffective for disruptive innovation initiatives. They need to dig deeply into their customer’s psyches and see their needs in the larger context of their complicated lives.
- The organization’s leaders have to be close to those customer needs – and to touch their customers themselves on a regular basis so that they can support creative new ideas rather than question their foundation.
- Critically, all of this requires collaborative behaviors, because success in innovation needs teams, not just individuals to work in supportive ways. They have to think differently and creatively to develop truly new ideas that don’t initially look feasible.
- Finally, creative thinking skills (yes these are teachable) might be even more important during development, incubation and implementation to get over the inevitable barriers that lurk at every stage.
All of this requires more than Stage Gate processes and innovation committees. There has to be a set of shared behaviors and thinking approaches coupled with real courage and commitment to action. If you have “Innovation” in your mission, is your organization prepared?
Are you ready to create a new culture which allows them to release the ingenuity of your team to create innovative ideas, and develop breakthrough innovative solutions to your most complex challenges, and revolutionize the way people think, work and live?