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Innovation meets Adolescence (Part 2)

7 10 2008

 

So what are the signs of the continuing development of enterprise use and adoption of innovation tools and techniques? 

We already covered in a previous post (see “Death of the Chief Innovation Officer”) the first of these signs – that of the increasing presence of dedicated innovation roles.  People dedicated to ensuring the company is innovating effectively, sustainably, and in the direction the company needs to go in – ensuring that a constant stream of new sources of competitive advantage and shareholder wealth are being discovered. 

Innovation has also achieved cross functional awareness – and whilst in the past Innovation would’ve been the sole domain of R&D or Marketing – we now see innovation happening in multiple parts of the company and even in between companies.  Companies are expecting innovation everywhere and looking across multiple Innovation Dimensions (read my previous paper on Innovation Dimensions which goes into this in more detail)  in search of differentiating factors which will set them apart from their competitors. 

In the past, companies would be pleasantly surprised if they achieved new sources of value. The price points for trying innovation was low, and the expectations were similarly low (I remember one FMCG company I worked with back in 2002 whose idea of a success story was pointing to the new names for the conference rooms that their employees had collaboratively devised). The same can definitely not be said for today’s innovative enterprise. 

Companies are also moving quickly up an innovation target maturity curve, each time tackling more complex projects that have an increasingly high potential impact on the business (see Innovation Complexity Curve post for more). As usual , it is the industries that face a quicker pace of change that are leading the charge up this curve as their need for innovation is equally strong. 

All of this points to an enterprise landscape where innovation is seen as a critical element of business strategy. This is no longer an experimental venture, but a strategic CEO supervised initiative. It has senior process leadership and senior project sponsors for each individual project run. There are now explicit goals and metrics tied to the bottom line welfare of the company. Failure is no longer an option – and the failure to create new forms of value for the company is a matter for very serious concern – not least of which because it is now a much more costly failure to endure. As a result experienced innovation heads are becoming increasingly valuable and companies are also increasingly looking for external advice and guidance from consultants and vendors who can lead them by the hand to demonstrated success.  

So there you have it – my observations on where the innovation industry is at this point in time – if I’ve forgotten to address any elements, or you just want to throw me a curve ball – by all means leave a comment and I’ll try my best to address it – Happy Innovating! 

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