All too often strategy is not influencing the behaviours and outcomes around innovation, it is simply allowing them to be left to chance. Innovation is being ‘pushed down’ the organization for others to interpret and offer their answers. This lack of alignment and top leadership engagement is one of the main causes why many organizations seem to just simply ‘limp’ along in their innovation activity.
It is often ironic that those in leadership positions, start expressing their disappointment over final innovation results, yet the answer simply lies more often than not in their hands to resolve. Top leadership in organizations need to shape innovation and be more involved in its strategic design.
We need to resolve this innovation leadership gap of misunderstanding. We need to explain what their essential place is and provide the strategic frame to allow it to be understood. Then the contribution for innovation might be ‘allowed’ to deliver far more on its potential as it achieves that greater strategic alignment.
Why do we see this rationale for this critical senior executive focus?
As innovation becomes a more consistent requirement rather than an occasional exercise, it must align to strategic goals and become part of the planning and execution cycle. An increased focus on innovation as a consistent discipline requires significant reflection on what needs changing, what impact this change will have and how do we proceed to implement it. This requires senior management attention because of the significant organizational impact.
This refocus of strategy and implementation takes time and may require rethinking or reworking some existing strategies, plans, structure or culture, or may require the development of new structures and skills. Our recommended approach will trigger the necessary engagement in this essential set of strategic decisions that cannot be delegated down the organization.
Innovation needs a well-considered framework
Like any other important corporate initiative, innovation requires a carefully considered framework, otherwise the efforts required to deliver innovation will suffer, resulting in sporadic, unsatisfactory outcomes. Is incremental innovation the best you can hope for? Innovation, in all its forms, incremental, distinctive, radical or transformational needs the full support and engagement of senior management, and requires defined strategic goals, structural frameworks and an engaged corporate culture.
While the tactical work of innovation is accomplished by innovation teams throughout the organization, your executive team needs to clearly establish the climate and the frameworks that will enable your innovators. This requires a clear articulation of strategy and the implementation of a framework that provides the essential building blocks for the organization to work within. You provide the linkage into the strategy, provide the framework and set this in the context of the vision and goals needed to be achieved. You seek out the synergies between strategy and innovation, between innovation and capabilities, between culture, the environment, the process, structure and routines and how it all should be governed.
Today many organizations presently find themselves locked in the innovation incremental trap. Real growth needs a more radical approach from innovation. Incremental innovation, often gives a very limited degree of security as others quickly copy or push this just a little bit further, so you end up chasing instead of making those leaps that give clear competitive space where that ‘advantage’ can become a sustaining one.
The compelling value of having an integrated innovation framework can be summarized:
- The framework or work mat moderates innovation and goes much towards reducing the multiple interpretations and the variety of initiatives often described or justified as innovative but significantly missing the strategic mark.
- There is an overwhelming argument that most people within the organization and those partnering with would appreciate a greater understanding of the core concepts, principles and direction that their innovation activity should take. To understand what is valued, essential to defend, promote and improve. To clarify what is highly strategic to describe and ‘form’ around helps innovation to perform its required task of delivering new growth that aligns into the strategic needs.
- By having this work mat approach you can frame a formal set of mechanisms and principles for innovation to rise in quality. For instance in articulating that the selection of high potential concepts are highly valued and prized, and will certainly get ring-fenced and special attention, does radically alter the innovation work-to-be-done within any organization.
- By having this strategic and systematic approach does give a clear ‘signal’ that we need to be more of an innovation-orientated organization. A framework that is offering the signposts and path finding points in vision, in proving the mechanisms for a whole innovation system transformation, in documentation, by engaging in constant discussions about innovation and its alignment to strategy, you move from ‘aspiration’ into gaining that ‘attraction power.’ You offer a fresh dynamic stock for innovation to feed from.
- The approach of the Executive Innovation Work Mat is to turn it into a living, evolving and dynamic framework that ‘cascades up and down the organization’ so it becomes the reference point, the strategic source that builds the common language of understanding, offers the communicating mechanism and determines the context.
Delivering an integrated framework would be for many, a strategy that is innovative in itself.
The frames intent, its very nature, is that it promotes excitement, growing identification and the chance to debate innovation in a broader, more comprehensive framework. By taking this integrated innovation approach it offers clarification, for those wanting to be involved in the growth and future of the organization to gain identification, provide input and draw out specific clarification to help them contribute.
An integrated approach can significantly provide the support to the people involved in innovating to help build their ability to execute in a cohesive way the innovation activity that contributes into the strategic innovation goals. It provides the framing opportunity for that elusive alignment that is often missing in today’s organizations
There is considerable value in exploring and determining your organizations integrated innovation framework and this can come through a greater encouragement to wrestle with innovation’s parts and frame this through the Executive Innovation Work Mat.
- Valuing an integrated framework- introducing the Executive Innovation Work Mat
- The critical aspects for an innovation vision
- John Bessant on Why Innovation is About Connections