- Posted by metre22
- On September 15, 2015
- 0 Comments
- Innovation, Metre22 Blog
Sometimes what you want—and what you spend considerable time and money trying to achieve—is not what you get. This is especially true of innovation.
The need to “be more innovative” has captured the attention of executives in almost every industry. And these executives have responded by building lots of innovation infrastructure within their companies. They go by different names (Innovation Center, Incubator, Emerging Opportunities Group, etc.), but a 2012 study by McKinsey & Company found that 85% of the companies surveyed had established a formal innovation department or group.
Chances are, your company’s org chart has a box for innovation too.
Yet, despite significant effort and the commitment of significant resources in the pursuit of innovation, in general, companies are dissatisfied with their results.
Why hasn’t innovation performance improved? At Metre22, we think one of the biggest barriers to success is the very infrastructure set up to make things better.
Executives who want their companies to get better at innovation think results will improve if they:
- Visibly demonstrate their commitment to innovation
- Make specific people accountable for innovation
- Codify their approaches to pursuing innovation
Creating the innovation box on their org chart does these three things; but it doesn’t improve innovation performance.
We have found that the “Innovation Center” approach can actually hinder a company’s ability to be more innovative. There are many reasons for this, including the following:
- By explicitly making the Innovation Center staff responsible for innovation, you implicitly remove this responsibility from everyone else in your organization, making the need to be innovative “somebody else’s job” and hindering your ability to crowdsource innovations from your own staff.
- And, because it’s the Innovation Center’s job to be the source of innovation, they tend to want to defend their turf (and justify their existence), resulting in battles with product and service line leaders and others over what constitutes an innovation and which group should lead the development. This slows the ability of the organization to respond to threats and opportunities in the marketplace.
- The Innovation Center also tends to assert its ownership of the innovation management processes, creating many hoops for “outsiders” to jump through if they want to do anything innovative. The resulting “innovation bureaucracy” can often hinder a company’s ability to be innovative.
- Often, the people who work in the Innovation Center take their responsibility for being the organizational source of innovation literally: they spend all of their time devising and developing “cool” or “transformational” innovations themselves or through partnerships with leading-edge Silicon Valley companies, rather than talking to your customers and your sales organization. Unfortunately, this approach usually results in the launch of lots of things your customers don’t want (because they never ran legitimate market tests with them) and your shareholders shouldn’t have to pay for.
Before you add an innovation box to your org chart, think about what you want to get from your innovation initiatives, and do so only if you’re convinced it’s the right move. If you already have a box for innovation, and are unhappy with the results, don’t fret. There are many ways to get better at innovation. We will begin presenting some of these in our next post.