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Ten more corporate innovation questions answered

Even more practical answers to practical matters.

Bruno Pešec
Bruno Pešec
4 min read
Ten 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 do you respond to challenges brought by top managers who dismiss innovation and attack it incessantly but without valid arguments?
  • How can we better decouple the idea that innovation leads to new products in our organization when really it is a mindset that should shift everything we do?
  • What are the best practices in driving innovation?
  • How to better align innovation strategy to business goals?
  • How can we balance the right level of governance to increase reliability for corporate innovation without limiting the value of the innovation output
  • How might we demonstrate the value of innovation and ROI in the short and long term?
  • How to run a successful innovation funnel?
  • How do we best balance detailed customer research with moving quickly like a startup?
  • How can I find the best areas to look for innovation solutions? How to narrow down the space from all the areas we could try to the areas most likely to be winning solutions?
  • How can I determine what the 3 to 5 key areas of interest are that should be the focus for breakthrough innovation program?
More questions and answers will be published next week. Have a question of your own? Write me at bruno@pesec.no.

How do you respond to challenges brought by top managers who dismiss innovation and attack it incessantly but without valid arguments?

  1. Perhaps their arguments are valid. Innovation success rates are just horrible, and perhaps there is a history of great failures in the organisation.
  2. Recognise that top managers have much to lose by supporting the "wrong" project.
  3. Argue for the big picture, ask for funding for the smallest possible next step.
  4. Argue for first hand-data.
  5. If innovation is something you thirst for, and you did everything you could to get off multiple innovation projects of the ground, then consider leaving the organisation. Life is too short to waste it on arguing with others.

How can we better decouple the idea that innovation leads to new products in our organization when really it is a mindset that should shift everything we do?

Why would you want to decouple that? Innovation is about value creation; which in most organisation manifests as some sort of product.

What are the best practices in driving innovation?

Don't approach it as a big-bang type of event. Assemble your innovation vanguard—a vertical slice of organisation—and have them take the lead. Learn from them and follow. Don't create too much distance between the "innovators" and the rest of the organisation, for that won't end well. Breakthrough innovation happens more often within a culture that fosters everyday innovation.

How to better align innovation strategy to business goals?

By answering "How will innovation contribute to this specific business goal?"

Note: use "will" not "might."

Here is some material you might find useful:

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 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.

How to run a successful innovation funnel?

No secret formula yet. What has shown to work well:

  • Minimal set of filter-gates (not stage-gates).
  • Clear innovation strategy (if it isn't aligned it shouldn't even enter the funnel).
  • One budget for the whole funnel, released piece-meal to initiatives as they progress.
  • Evidence-based progress and funding.
  • Healthy support to the funnel: think IT, legal, procurement, and all the functions that usually take three weeks to respond.
  • Measure time between the stages.
  • Measure cost between the stages.
  • Assemble a venture board or something similar to make regular investment decisions.

How do we best balance detailed customer research with moving quickly like a startup?

By clearly defining what is it that you need to learn in order to move forward.

How can I find the best areas to look for innovation solutions? How to narrow down the space from all the areas we could try to the areas most likely to be winning solutions?

By quantifying the most desirable customer outcomes.

How can I determine what the 3 to 5 key areas of interest are that should be the focus for breakthrough innovation program?

  1. I'd start by looking at the core jobs your organisation addresses.
  2. If that arena seems "too small" for further growth, I'd look into key supporting jobs (of those core jobs).
  3. I'd stay away from defining areas of interest through technology.

Previous corporate innovation Q&A

Eight corporate innovation questions answered
Practical answers to practical matters.
Eight more corporate innovation questions answered
More practical answers to practical matters.
ConferenceInnovationStrategyLeadership

Bruno Pešec

I turn corporate innovation into a viable investment.


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