As an Innovation Strategy & Governance curator at Innov8rs unconference I help answer many questions regarding corporate innovation. Below are my answers to:
- How to put guardrails around the corporate innovation group, so we are not trying to do everything?
- How do I ensure the innovation function has critical mass to be sustainable?
- How can we overcome capital, capacity and culture constraints to reliably execute projects as an ambidextrous company?
- How to make a traditional organisation realise that the world is changing fast and translate that into an appetite and urgency to undertake disruptive innovation?
- How can we better communicate success of innovation initiatives?
How to put guardrails around the corporate innovation group, so we are not trying to do everything?
By establishing a clear innovation strategy. Answering following questions might be helpful as well:
- What business objectives is innovation supposed to contribute to? How?
- What are desired outcomes and/or returns from investing in innovation?
- What arenas/fields/domains will you innovate in?
- What types of innovation will the company invest in, and whom will be responsible for each type?
- By whom and how are innovation initiatives funded?
Executive backed innovation "themes" and "challenges" make for particularly effective "guardrails."
As does a disciplined habit of saying "no."
How do I ensure the innovation function has critical mass to be sustainable?
Don't act as an overzealous police officer or The Acolyte of One True Way. Be an enabler; a conduit; make your internal customers the stars of the show. Focus on the critical few people and processes, and allow others to follow.
How can we overcome capital, capacity and culture constraints to reliably execute projects as an ambidextrous company?
Three C's you list are continuously contested territory.
First, secure an innovation budget (capital+capacity) that is a lump sum, and is not tied to a specific project. It should be for a specific portfolio instead.
Second, release parts of that budget to various innovation project, always funding the smallest next increment.
Third, focus on doing as you say. Makes it easier to change the culture.
How to make a traditional organisation realise that the world is changing fast and translate that into an appetite and urgency to undertake disruptive innovation?
As I've written before:
First, understand what are the root causes of purported "lack of appetite." Is it fear? Resignation? Contentment with current situation? Something else?
Second, remember that we are social creatures. Role model the changes you wish to see. Don't just talk! Show and reward curiosity, inquisitiveness, iterativeness, and so on.
Third, don't gatekeep innovation. Allow everybody to experience the joy that comes from creating something new and valuable.
And finally, be ready to accept that different organisations have different diets.
How can we better communicate success of innovation initiatives?
Internal community events.
Focus on sharing insight (esp. regarding customer needs), ideally in the following three categories:
- New: something we didn't know before.
- Reinforced: something we knew, that hasn't changed.
- Changed: something we knew, that has changed.
Make sure that the event is interactive, e.g. invite those present to think how could the shared insight be used in other parts of the organisation and so on.
Another venue is intranet—make short posts describing the project, key learnings and results.
Collate the same into a one to two page document and make it easily available to other employees.
Help people connect the dots.
Previous corporate innovation Q&A
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