In my last blog “The Innovation Jigsaw” I talked about the five discovery characteristics, which enable those who possess them to take the mundane and seemingly unsolvable, transform it into the extraordinary ad ultimately, innovate. But I also cautioned that the organisation had to be set up to mirror those behaviours, with innovation sitting at the heart of the ecosystem, or risk innovation failure.
But there is one further piece, which has to fit, or the whole innovation strategy simply becomes a jumble of contradictions. That piece is the senior leadership team. Sadly, although the case for innovation is accepted by many, few are equipped to take the actions necessary to complete the journey. The result is that the road to innovation failure starts with the very people who instigate the journey. Bringing employees with the right discovery characteristics on board is relatively simple, standing up and declaring a change in culture is all in a day’s work; actually adopting the mindset, actions and behaviours which will lead the organisation towards innovation greatness i.e. become an ‘innovation leader’ is quite another matter.
With that in mind I thought it appropriate to highlight the cornerstones, which support the efforts of senior teams to transform organisational culture into an innovation ecosystem.
There must be an understanding of the current culture and what the required culture for innovation success looks like (the culture gap), in order to understand what to change.
- The innovation strategy needs to be aligned to the core strategy, values and the current business challenges of the organisation. Only once the strategy is fully formed and robust can it be communicated and rolled out across the organisation.
- Innovation must be organisation-wide and that means showing everyone where and how they can contribute so that innovation doesn’t become the domain of a select few.
- There must be an innovation process so that everyone who wants to contribute knows exactly what to do with their ideas.
- Insight must be deep enough and create the right type of intelligence in order for the ideas the organisation works on to result in something genuinely different and valuable.
- Measuring innovation both in terms of business performance and individual behaviour, actions and contribution must be ongoing and constantly communicated.
- Organisation-wide collaboration must be promoted along with the development of external partnerships (open innovation) in order to increase the knowledge base and ability of the organisation to innovate.
Most importantly, once started, the innovation switch can never be turned off; your foot can never come off the gas so momentum and enthusiasm must be constant. There should never be a time when the organisation doesn’t ask ‘what’s next?’ or ‘what else can we do?’ ‘How can we do it better?’
Innovation has stepped out of the realms of ‘new products’ and into a new ecosphere in which differentiation and creating exceptional experiences reign supreme. For an organisation to succeed in this new world takes the right combination of Insight, Collaboration and Agility. Stepping up to the innovation mark is not for the faint hearted but neither is the alternative, which results in the leadership team presiding over an organisation, which slowly sinks into the mire.
The 2012 Accenture Survey revealed that 93% of companies acknowledged their long-term success is dependent on their ability to innovate. Successfully adopting a culture of innovation results in breakthrough products and services aligned with growth at a competitive and sustainable pace. It means customers receiving an outstanding experience from an organisation, which is geared up to be agile and responsive. But none of this will happen if the senior team are not prepared to take the actions, which are required to transform the organisation.
If innovation is a current strategic challenge i.e. you’re one of the 93% in the Accenture survey and you are prepared to do what it takes and think the right strategic advice would help you get there, then get in touch.