Continuing with my previous article, an important aspect of creating an innovation strategy is that much of what is important needs to be done BEFORE you create the strategy. You need data to help guide innovation strategy decisions. This and the next few articles will answer the question, “How ready is my company for innovation?”
Over the next few articles, we will review three major areas to help assess the current state of ‘innovation readiness’ in your organization:
This article is dedicated to understanding how to access the innovation readiness of your employees and leaders.
Why start with assessing your people? “I’ll stay with the devil I know” is a common phrase of people who are scared of change. These people will fight to keep things as they are, especially if they have built a fiefdom. Even Wired recognized “When politics gets in the way of innovation”.
There two main purposes behind assessing leaders and employees for innovation readiness are:
Let’s focus on what data should be gathered. Our methodology lists these under “Personal and Interpersonal Assessments".
In the next article, we’ll review the different types of assessments:
Upon reviewing the results, Senior Management. can decide how much resources (e.g. budget) should be allocated to:
As a consultant, the most common questions I am asked are, “Why should I invest in innovation?” and “What is the ROI (return on investment) from innovation?” Let’s forget about me and just look at innovation - why should YOU invest in innovation?
So back to the most important issue with innovation - is it worth it?
Greg Satell’s article in Forbes, “Innovation Is The Only True Way To Create Value” states:
Innovation is … valuable because it raises the productivity of both capital and labor.
Jeff De Cagna in his “The Six Core Values of Innovation” says quite simply:
While the pursuit of innovation cannot absolutely guarantee meaningful growth, it is the best strategy most enterprises have for achieving it in a way that can become sustainable over time.
The Harvard Business Review published an article “Value Innovation: The Strategic Logic of High Growth” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. I completely agree with their approach.
Why do some companies achieve sustained high growth in both revenues and profits? … The less successful companies took a conventional approach: Their strategic thinking was dominated by the idea of staying ahead of the competition. In stark contrast, the high-growth companies paid little attention to matching or beating their rivals. Instead, they sought to make their competitors irrelevant through a strategic logic we call value innovation.
There are more experts willing to share their definition of and value from innovation. The question is really not if there is value in innovation. The question is if your organization is ready for innovation and how you are going to innovate. The next series of articles will be about preparing to create an innovation strategy. Then we’ll discuss how to to create the innovation strategy and, eventually, rolling out innovation at your organization.
Congratulations! You’ve been awarded the privilege of organizing the effort to implement innovation at your company. Maybe you’ve followed my advice in the last few articles and have shown enough documentation to demonstrate the value of implementing innovation at your organization. Now that you have senior management’s attention, what’s next? Where do you start to organize everything needed to create an innovation strategy?
There is already a huge amount of information available about how to create an innovation strategy. Many of the top articles I’ve found have a common theme: “You Need an Innovation Strategy” by Gary P. Pisano; “Mapping Your Innovation Strategy” by Scott Anthony, Matt Eyring and Lib Gibson; and “How to Form an Innovation Strategy” by Scott Anthony. Many of the articles you’ll find on innovation strategy all follow a common theme, “...we suggest that companies begin innovation efforts by creating an innovation strategy that details clear targets and tactics.” With all of these available articles, why pay attention to this one?
Have you ever met people who are invested in keeping things the way they are? These people will fight against innovation. This is just one of the many things you should know before you start to formulate an innovation strategy.
I’ve been in the innovation implementation trenches before. Learn from me where the landmines are so you can avoid them.
For those of you who are an executive with a budget for innovation, or if you are someone who has convinced an executive that time and effort should be invested in innovation, this next series of articles is for you. We will review all of the things that should be included in PLANNING to create an an innovation strategy. In other words, these articles are going to review information you should gather to PREPARE yourself and your executives to help create your innovation strategy. This information will be needed when all of the senior executives gather to create the innovation strategy, including what is in and what is out of scope of the innovation project.
There are two areas of information that should be gathered to ensure senior management has what they need when meeting to discuss creating an innovation strategy and project:
Because there are people in the world who are very invested in keeping things the way they are - and innovation is opposite of this - you really should take the time to look at point #1 above and determine how available your executives, leadership, and employees are to introducing innovation into your organization. Taking time to evaluate the readiness of your organization first will help determine how much work there will be during the innovation rollout.
This and the next couple of articles are going to discuss how to assess how ready your organization is to accept innovation. To put it as politely as possible, you should know in advance the amount of employee and leadership development needed to get as many people as possible on board the innovation train.
Much of this is basic project planning 101. The question is whether you know what questions to ask, specific to innovation, to gather enough information to present to the innovation planning committee.
We are going to review three major areas to help assess the current state of “innovation readiness” in your organization:
We’ll go into all of this in great detail over the next few articles to help you avoid the pitfalls I’ve encountered and also so you can learn from all the successes I’ve had in implementing an innovation strategy. Stay tuned!
Over the last few articles, we’ve discussed the absolute fundamental principle behind innovation — it comes from your employees. Yes, it can come from other places, such as stakeholders and investors as stated by the Conscious Capitalism book by Mackey and Sisodia. It also can come from ‘crowd innovation’. Both of these utilize people external to your organization.
Employees see opportunities first hand every day. The question then becomes how do you get innovative ideas from them?
We started a laundry list of things to do for employees in “Innovation - Where to Start (Part 1)”. This leads to the question — which came first the chicken or the egg? What do you put into place first?
These where-to-start innovation articles are for those of you with a limited budget and limited resources. Doing all this at once is just not possible.
The information I’m sharing is for the troublemakers who are taking a stand to make things better, regardless of how outside of your job description it is. You need to collect data, document value, and propose to executives why they should listen to you. I was in that situation for many years and now I’m passing my experience onto you.
Mark Murphy contributed an article to Forbes, “Three Tools To Inspire Innovation From Your Employees.” His ideas range from leadership involvement to designating autonomy time. His last idea, “...make time for sharing these observations at regular staff meetings.” Again, we’re at the chicken and egg scenario. Do you train leadership to ask for innovations, which essentially would require management approval (and possibly a budget for leadership training), or do you start even simpler (and cheaper) and present possible innovations?
It’s my opinion that if you are starting a grassroots effort to get innovation started at your organization, first get the ball rolling with the least amount of effort possible.
That means getting a few innovations documented to show the value of simply asking for ideas from employees or registering your own ideas (point #1 above). This would allow you to document the potential value of your efforts, which can be used to persuade management to look at providing a budget for leadership training and, eventually, innovation process development (points 2 & 3 above).
So where to start? Start small. Start lean. Start by learning and documenting basic innovations to show how eventually your organization can reap the benefits of being an undercover boss 24/7.