The problem with innovation, is that it can seem fun and exciting to release creativity through energising brainstorms, but until the creative potential of your people is channelled through a structured Innovation Ecosystem, it can never the return on investment your business needs.
In MOK’s forthcoming book on The Innovation Ecosystem, he outlines the need for an Innovation Engine. The structure of this Engine varies from organisation to organisation, but there are certain principles which are consistent across organisations which have optimised their Innovation Ecosystem.
New Metrics Are Needed
Innovation is neither enabled nor sustained by ‘business-as-usual’ metrics, or traditional business processes. We once worked with a client on an innovation project, where the senior stakeholders asked for an ROI forecast before the idea had even been prototyped. The innovator’s response to this (at least in their mind) must be: “probably nothing, we’ll fail five times before we make a penny, but once we succeed, the results will be disruptive”. Build new measures for innovation success, to ensure the ultimate prize, truly differentiated innovations, can be achieved.
Innovation is not the responsibiltiy of one team or person
Innovation Teams are integral to the future of innovation in organisations, but they should be seen as leaders and enablers of innovation, not an innovation silo. There is a place for separate innovation incubators, especially if you’re thinking about disruptive innovation, but you also need to create structures to promote an ‘ideas come from anywhere’ mindset, so that the whole organisation is continually looking for ways to improve.
Expansive Thinking is turbo-charged with external partnerships
Isn’t it true that if you only look at your own business or industry for solutions, the best you can hope for is to be as good as the competition? External stimulus is powerful for driving creativity and disruptive thinking, to generate truly ground-breaking ideas. Partnering with external talent can invigorate your corporate culture and re-inspire plateaued employees. It can also be a powerful tool for keeping a pulse of the emerging trends in your industry. Traditional banks are increasingly partnering with Fin-tech startups, to co-create novel solutions that can then be integrated into their offer. This win-win provides the bank with a new solution and the startup with a customer base and the infrastructure of a corporate.
We’re supporting one of the main high street banks at an event later this month, to deepen the internal and external connections between innovators, so that they can collaborate more effectively to deliver even stronger results. This will be followed up by regular communications and community events across the country, to keep the connections strong. This is a great example of developing an Innovation Engine.
The Last Word
Clayton Christenssen, in his innovator’s Dillemma summed up perfectly the urgent need for an Innovation Engine, when he wrote:
“Managers played the game the way it was supposed to be played. The very decision-making and resource-allocation processes that are key to the success of established companies are the very processes that reject disruptive technologies: listening carefully to customers; tracking competitors’ actions carefully; and investing resources to design and build higher-performance, higher-quality products that will yield greater profit. These are the reasons why great firms stumbled or failed when confronted with disruptive technological change.”
Don’t let good management be the enemy of innovation for you. Build an Innovation Ecosystem with an Engine which allows innovation to flourish.