The Innovation Dilemma

idginovdilIn todays commercial arena, innovation is critical to grow and position your company as a leader within its market(s), and position it above its competition but many don’t know where to begin nor how to foster and drive it within their organisation.

At a recent roundtable I ran, we discussed innovation and its use as a driving force for revenue growth. The roundtable attendees were IT leaders from a number of large enterprise organisations and hailed from all over Europe ready for an engaging discussion (no pressure!).
We started the discussion by going around the room asking everyone what the barriers to innovation were in their organisations.
There were a number of recurring points which weren’t surprising, such as who should own innovation across the organisation, and how do they foster and engage innovation within their organisations and prioritise the elements of it accordingly.

What did surprise me however were comments such as “what exactly is innovation?” and “is delivering new products, ideas or services that improve revenue just me doing my job well?”
I hadn’t expected to hear this but it really made sense and drove our discussion on to how do you measure innovation against doing your job well – not an easy task but if you are set an innovation target within your organisation be it revenue or service focused its a crucial one you will need to resolve.

This really highlighted to me that though every organisation is trying their damnedest to deliver innovation, what they are really struggling with is how to foster, engage with and measure it accordingly in relation to it adding tangible value.
How do you truly measure innovation? Is it through your product creation team delivering the right products to the right markets and capturing critical commercial momentum or simply altering an online process to make it easier for clients to register themselves?

The truth is that in any organisation where free thinking and entrepreneurial activity is encouraged, not stifled and is coupled with hard-working smart employees, you are going to get innovation.
You are also going to create a great working environment which will attract more smart, hard-working people who can create better products and services which create additional revenue and clear competitive advantage – what’s not to like!
Many of you will be thinking this is a brave commercial stance but you cannot argue with the results of those that do change their business strategy and working models like this. It may be hard work and anathema to some but the changing of the guard with relation to that of the traditional executive way of thinking is underway as millennial ideologies and commercial practices seep further into enterprise organisations as they rise up the executive ladder.

There are many ways in which larger organisations are trying to increase their rate of innovation such as creating innovation labs and associated teams to partner with start-up incubators like MassChallenge who do a fantastic job in this space and are non-profit.
JLAB at John Lewis is an excellent example of one such innovation hub where they are encouraging start-ups to come to them and compete to win unique access to John Lewis who will help them refine their products and their business models with the final prize being the opportunity of securing a contract with them.
Others such as UBS who are looking at new technologies which will disrupt their industry such as Blockchain and have set up labs and an open competition for entrepreneurs and technology startups around the world to compete for funding. These are fabulous opportunities for new and established start-ups to work with established corporates and really fosters the growth of innovation and entrepreneurship in our society and I am very much in favour of these efforts.

In today’s world where technology enables us to achieve so much of what we only dreamed possible a few years ago and most people now so attuned to it there really is no argument for not enabling and fostering innovation within your organisation. You now have to concentrate on changing your culture to incorporate, foster and grow innovation within your organisation. It will be hard work, but boy will it pay you back, and it might just be the best thing you’ve ever done.

 

This post has also been featured on the HP Business Value Exchange here 

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