8 steps to building a sustained environment where innovation thrives.
Follow these eight steps to build a sustained environment where innovation thrives. A culture where breakthroughs are expected, not simply desired. Without the correct approach, innovation efforts are a shot in the dark. Based on the science of innovation presented in The Innovation Biome.
Visible commitment of your organization’s leadership to innovate (not just in words, but in actions). Only then will the organization believe that innovation is the essential activity that will allow the company to sustain relevance in an ever-changing marketplace. This commitment results in the shared belief where every person believes they can play a role in innovation pushes the boundaries in every activity. Yes, there will be misses, far more misses than hits but this is the only way to get on a path to creating the world-changing innovations that everybody dreams about.
Get rid of misconceptions and fallacies that haunt your organization. You will not be successful chasing the next big thing. This is simply because the next big thing is not sitting out there waiting to be plucked. The big breakthrough idea you are looking for is likely already out there; you just need to pick it up and build unmatched value with it. Innovation is not about the value in creating ideas; it is about the ideas creating value.
Understand the foundational components of innovation, the first principles, and ensure they are present. Without the presence of these components, innovation is highly unlikely, no matter what else you do. The five innovation components discussed in The Innovation Biome are priming, acceptance, networked development, clustering value, and an environment to catalyze innovation.
There are different types of innovation activities, including those designed for creating incremental innovation, breakthrough innovation, and transformational innovation. Each of these types of innovation is just as valuable as the other. There is a common misconception that incremental innovation is less desirable, but that is simply not true. Incremental innovation is the essence of an organization; without a culture of continual improvement, big breakthroughs are unlikely to occur. Understand that each of these activities requires different tool sets and approaches. Matching the tools to activities is essential, or else innovation efforts will be for naught.
Innovation is about altering experiences. The experience delta, or the difference between a current experience and the new experience developed through an innovation is the currency of an innovation, a consistent way to determine which ideas get commercialized and which ones do not. The bigger the experience delta, the more impact the innovation will have. Systematic innovation development requires the articulation of the experience delta, which becomes the vision and driving force behind the innovation effort. As organizations get in the habit of creating experience deltas, the process of innovation will become more habitual and eventually become institutionalized.
Ensure that every dedicated innovation initiative is staffed by people with the right skill set. Simply assigning high achievers or people showing high potential to innovation activities can backfire. Innovation is most likely to happen with people who have expertise in their domain, a set of relevant creativity traits, and the right level and type of motivation, and it requires an environment conducive to creativity. For any dedicated innovation activity, the team must be selected solely based on their ability to create new value.
Innovations are most likely to have market success if they exhibit a clear advantage over existing experiences. Additionally, an innovation needs to resolve a real need (stated or latent) of customers, be visible for users to see its benefits, and provide as smooth a path to adoption as possible.
Finally, the right metrics need to be in place to track progress on your innovation strategy. There is no need for complex dashboards tracking a range of activities that may or may not result in innovation. The innovation metrics need to be simple, transparent, and something you can track. The leadership of the organization needs to own the responsibility to deliver on them.