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15 Components of Innovation Culture
Our insight, at The DeSai Group, from working with global customers since 1983 is that leadership readiness is the most essential factor for success. Leaders may want innovation, but it is entirely possible that the midlevel managers are not ready, meaning they have no time and no resources and lack the mind-set, motivation, and skills. It is also possible that the current organizational structures are too bureaucratic to welcome innovation thinking.
Let's look at the 15 factors in the categories of Alignment, Insights and Mobilization
that control innovation readiness and improve innovation propensity at your company.
Five alignment factors are related to a business's ability to recognize, specify, clarify and commit to the purpose of innovation and help achieve predefined business value-your target destination. There is no need to waste time and money on innovation unless it is critically linked to the business strategy.
Alignment is about strategically sponsoring, engaging, monitoring, and supporting all innovation activities at every level of the business structure. If alignment is properly executed and adjusted as the organization matures, the result will be a climate and culture of innovation for long-term sustainable business growth.
|Alignment Success Factors||Definition|
|Innovation Mandate||At the top, innovation is seen as critical to the future of our organization.|
|Leader readiness||Leaders are prepared to guide the organization's innovation efforts.|
|Employee engagement||Individuals throughout the organization are motivated to contribute to innovation.|
|Innovation support||Organization has effective systems and processes to support innovation.|
|Systematic approach||There is a clear framework, common language, along with a systematic and well-understood approach to innovation.|
What are the signs of an aligned organization for innovation? When alignment is present, you will see focus and collaboration at the right levels for the purpose of achieving organizational and individual goals for both the business leaders and for individuals. True alignment will show up in the form of employees' desire to engage at work and be effective contributors to the organization, continually looking for new ways to support the overall vision, mission, and purpose of the organization as a whole.
Alignment means that each business unit, department, team, and individual sees and understands its role and how it contributes to the overall innovation mandate of the organization. It gives them confidence that their work is valuable.
Insights reflect the importance of discovering new ideas-with art and science rather than as matter of luck. It begins with the recognition that information from many sources is essential to developing unique insights that will allow your business to achieve strategic targets.
To develop deep insights about what is possible, you must involve people from all levels of the organization, including partners, suppliers, customers, and regulators. The larger the field of information and ideas, the more dramatic, sustainable, and unique will be your pool of insights. Here we capture a collection of ideas and knowledge, connected or not to each other, for potential exploitation.
Once captured, the ideas must be organized and easily shared with others so they can be enhanced; the result becomes your idea bank. You need a disciplined process to keep the idea bank alive or, like anything else, the ideas will quickly die due to inertia.
|Insights Success Factors||Definition|
|Diverse perspectives||We incorporate a wide range of perspectives in the idea- generation process.|
|External orientation||We actively engage with the external environment.|
|Climate/Culture||Our organizational climate and culture support the generation of ideas/insights.|
|Idea flow||We have strong flow of creative ideas.|
We select the best ideas from those that are generated on a timely basis.
How does a company develop this competency for deep insights? In most organizations, to gain insight into projects, market positioning, and corporate performance, they develop and study performance charts, two-by-two matrices, and Balanced Scorecards, respectively. Looking at data in such a way, we are able to develop certain forms of business insights.
Similarly, innovation insight depends on finding (sometimes through visualization and highly diverse group exercises) new knowledge that leads to practical ideas for consideration. When executed well, insights enable creation of innovation platforms (a plethora of ideas to pursue a large multiyear business opportunity) and fresh ideas. This helps managers quickly make investment decisions to accelerate new and novel discoveries.
What is required for an idea pipeline to get fatter and mightier? The most important is to establish climate of trust and openness that support the creative process. You will also need tools for individuals and teams to find incremental and breakthrough ideas.
The focus here is strictly on innovation execution. Our data show that most organizations are weakest in this area. Mobilization reflects the reality that even with strong alignment and a good flow of insights, innovation is only valuable when it is translated into results-that is, executed. The organization with the best idea is not always the winner. Rather, the organization with the ability to execute the best idea is the winner. Especially in today's competitive and fast-paced environment where maturation from unique idea to commodity is very swift, execution in the early stages of innovation is critical for success.
|Mobilization Success Factors||Definition|
|Resources||The organization allocates sufficient resources to innovation.|
|Governance||There are effective governance structures and processes for innovation.|
|Portfolio||Through a structured process, the company effectively manages a portfolio of innovations selected for implementation.|
|Change management||Leaders create the adjustments required to ensure all innovations achieve full realization.|
|Execution||The company has a clear process for successfully bringing projects through the pipeline to achieve positive results.|
Mobilizing also means you must capture the maximum value of an innovation before it is duplicated, continually improving that product of service to stay ahead of the competition. Effective mobilization calls for sufficient resources; quick and effective decisions; clear thinking about the human impact of new approaches; and continuous learning about how to translate innovations into reality faster and successfully over time.
In summary, mobilization is a set of processes, methods, tools, and structures that will allow employees and managers to operationalize ideas for implementation and venturing in an informed way to achieve targeted business outcomes.
Alignment + Insights + Mobilization = Success
Alignment, insights, and mobilization are all happening at the same time. All three play critical roles in the success of innovation and therefore, the long-term sustainability of your organization. To be successful, you must manage each of them and the trade-offs between them. An idea that has great merit but would struggle to be mobilized in your organization may not be as valuable as an idea with less merit that can quickly be tested and mobilized. A fantastic idea that would be great for your consumer but does not align with your organizational purpose will struggle to receive funding and support over the long term. A great idea for the market but without strong leadership alignment will stay dormant.
As your organization builds the innovation muscle and the innovation engine continues to grow, you will need to adjust the integration points as a part of the overall business planning conversations and activities at the top.
Your turn. Please comment below.
- Do you feel that Alignment, Insights and Mobilizing should receive equal weight in the process?
- What have you done to commercialize your idea pipeline?
- Which of the 15 factors do you find most important?
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