Perspectives

Who Owns Innovation?

For many years, innovation was the domain of the R&D department. Secret activity would be carried out away from prying eyes within the ‘labs’. Months later, a new product was revealed with a bang. How that happened, very few knew. Innovation was very much something for only those in the know…
For many years, innovation was the domain of the R&D department. Secret activity would be carried out away from prying eyes within the ‘labs’. Months later, a new product was revealed with a bang. How that happened, very few knew. Innovation was very much something for only those in the know…
Innovation team
But then something changed, along came high-growth, unicorn tech businesses and suddenly innovation became this much bigger thing. Businesses wanted to be seen as innovative. The media placed a spotlight on highly innovative organisations. Leaders wanted to drive innovation. And the debate over who owned innovation began.

Was it the CEO? Should it be marketing? How about leaving it with the R&D team? Or do we need to create a whole new function to manage this behemoth before us? At some point, HR became part of this conversation. After all, people innovate and HR looks after people, so shouldn’t they be responsible for innovation?

These conversations are still occurring today. In our opinion, innovation has yet to find its natural home – the company – whereby everyone, at every level, is responsible for innovating.

Everyone has the ability to innovate

As we said in our previous blog on boosting innovation capability, everyone has the ability to innovate. Being an innovator is not a skill available only to CEOs, leaders or those deemed to be ‘creative’. Innovation starts with an idea, and more times than not, the best ideas come from those who are dealing day-to-day with customers and colleagues.

Though to create an environment whereby everybody owns innovation, it needs to become a part of the organisation’s DNA. And that needs someone to be the driving force. Someone who can make innovation part of the language. Someone who can remove cultural barriers and ensure it lives and breathes through an organisation. Someone who can foster an innovation culture.

Whether that’s the CEO, an Innovation Director, or the HR Director, it is important that someone owns it. The priority is that there is one person responsible for creating and driving an innovation culture across the business. And while it is their accountability, it is everyone’s responsibility. 

If you’d like to know more about how you can drive an innovation culture in your business, click here to read more.

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