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Eight more corporate innovation questions answered

More practical answers to practical matters.

Bruno Pešec
Bruno Pešec
3 min read
Eight more corporate innovation questions answered

As an Innovation Strategy & Governance curator at Innov8rs unconference I help answer many questions regarding corporate innovation. Below are my answers to:

  • How can we improve collaboration in R&D and innovation across organizational boundaries?
  • How can knowledge and learnings of innovation processes be captured to improve future activities?
  • All innovation routes have reported mixed results for decades. Building yourself is not per se worse or better than partnering or acquiring solutions/other companies. If any road can take you there, what is the real meaning of Innovation Strategy these days?
  • How can we create a strategy that improves innovation outcomes in a global organization considering different markets e.g. EMEA, China, India, SEA, Americas?
  • How can we make innovation teams more committed and accountable to process?
  • How can we balance the right level of governance to increase reliability for corporate innovation without limiting the value of the innovation output
  • How do we provide the space, tooling and methodolgies [for innovation] to teams?
  • How might we demonstrate the value of innovation and ROI in the short and long term?
More questions and answers will be published next week. Have a question of your own? Write me at bruno@pesec.no.

How can we improve collaboration in R&D and innovation across organizational boundaries?

Few actions to try out:

  • Align on shared understanding of what are R&D and innovation (one simplistic take I like is that R&D is about turning money into ideas, while innovation is about turning ideas into money).
  • Illustrate / visualise end-to-end value stream(s), position where and how R&D and innovation teams/units get involved.
  • Discuss areas for collaboration.
  • Discuss areas of friction.
  • Be patient. Be understanding. Drink plenty of water.

How can knowledge and learnings of innovation processes be captured to improve future activities?

Experiment results should be documented and disseminated.

Here is a simple guide for capturing the learnings » https://www.pesec.no/on-learning-from-lean-experiments/

Regarding sharing, one thing that works really well are (voluntary) community events. Have teams share their key learning and insight. In essence, you want to get other people / teams pulling the insight, instead of you pushing it on others.

All innovation routes have reported mixed results for decades. Building yourself is not per se worse or better than partnering or acquiring solutions/other companies. If any road can take you there, what is the real meaning of Innovation Strategy these days?

The real meaning of any strategy is to align your organisation behind common cause, goal, objective, direction, etc. Different roads have different challenges and requirements. Nor are all roads available to all travelers.

How can we create a strategy that improves innovation outcomes in a global organization considering different markets e.g. EMEA, China, India, SEA, Americas?

  1. Make sure that "how" and "where" is innovation expected to contribute is clearly outlined in the corporate strategy.
  2. E.g. the group strategy document could have something like "We expect innovation initiatives to contribute to revenue growth, as well as identifying growth opportunities 5–7 years into the future. BUs are expected to invest at least X% of their budget in adjacent innovation. [Define it.] ..." And so on.
  3. Make sure that globally agreed upon positions and values are clearly communicated and understood.
  4. Then, and only then, figure out if you need a dedicated innovation strategy. If you do, and given how large the company in question seems, consider:
  • having a part that applies group wide (key roles, governance, budgeting, top objectives, etc), and
  • having sub-parts for each significant geography or value stream.

In essence, it's a balancing act between being protective steward (since innovation investment can quickly turn to waste) and being too detailed (you don't want to micromanage each BU or geography).

How can we make innovation teams more committed and accountable to process?

Match commitments and accountabilities to the idea's maturity level:

How to hold innovation teams accountable?
Match expectations to the idea maturity level.

How can we balance the right level of governance to increase reliability for corporate innovation without limiting the value of the innovation output

Institute fast decision-making bodies like a venture board (not committee). Have clear innovation strategy as well as portfolio strategy so minor investment decisions can get easily approved (if at all).

How do we provide the space, tooling and methodolgies [for innovation] to teams?

Figure out what they need, and then provide it. Remember: providing access to internal resources is more important than space, tooling, or methodology.

How might we demonstrate the value of innovation and ROI in the short and long term?

Investing in innovation should be worth it, as the numbers have shown. Short-term value lies in generating reusable knowledge. Revenue is the long-term value.

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Bruno Pešec

I turn corporate innovation into a viable investment.


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