Okay, I’ll admit that in some circumstances asking about levels of maturity could be seen to be somewhat accusatory. When it comes to considering maturity in a personal context, the way in which you ask the question, and expect to receive the answer, will depend on individual definitions of maturity. Some will perceive maturity in terms of outlook or in being prepared to take responsibility for your actions, whilst others will equate maturity with behaviour.
But whilst asking ‘how mature are you’ in a personal context could be seen to be somewhat akin to accusing someone of being immature, in business the connotation is somewhat different. So, were I to ask about your levels of innovation maturity I would be looking to understand where your organisation sits on the innovation spectrum and thereby help you to develop innovation implementation in your organisation.
Let’s make one thing clear at the outset; every organisation is unique and every organisation will have its own place on the innovation spectrum. Even two businesses delivering identical products or services which started on the same day and have the same level of employees and turnover are unlikely to be identical in their innovation outlook. This is a vital concept for business leaders to understand if they are to move forward along an innovation pathway which is right for their business. As innovation thought leaders we’ve seen far too many instances of businesses which look to create a culture of innovation by copying others; a pathway which invariably leads to failure.
Your business is unique, your culture is unique and if you are to successfully integrate innovation into your organisation then it is vital that you create a roadmap which is individual for your organisation. And the successful planning of any journey rests on understanding the starting point. So the first step is to carry out a cultural assessment in order to develop a deep understanding of the current culture and innovation maturity level of the organisation. Whilst the cultural assessment will vary from business to business, in general it may include both qualitative and quantitative assessments which will combine to develop an understanding of the culture including employee engagement, leadership and management styles, behavioural norms and practices, taking into account both internal and external feedback.
Taken together, these will not only help the organisation to understand its level of innovation maturity but also to start to map out the steps which may be required to move innovation forward. For example, leading for innovation requires the leadership team to be comfortable with empowerment and collaboration. If the current leadership style is more autocratic, then some work will be required with the leadership team before they can start to move the organisation forward.
So where might your organisation sit in terms of innovation maturity? The Future Shapers 4×4 Innovation Maturity Model looks at four core levels; novice, apprentice, professional and ultimately leader and then assess these over four core areas (strategy, leadership, culture and processes) in order to build a picture of the current state of innovation and hence maturity in any organization. Just to complicate matters, different departments within an organisation may have differing levels of innovation maturity.
It is only once the organisational leaders fully understand the current levels of innovation maturity that they can start to create a strategy which will move the organisation forward and we will look at this in more detail in a future article. How mature are you? If you don’t know, then you will never be in a position to shift your organisation from where you are today to where you want to be. If you don’t know, then you’ll never be able to transform your business into one, which embraces innovation to deliver game-changing products, solutions, business models and experiences and thus truly compete in the ever-changing world we now operate in.