Organisations who follow a structured innovation approach have the ability to mobilise innovation initiatives, and can optimise the time taken to create new value for their customers and themselves.
In practice, this structured approach rarely occurs as business units and functions tend to focus on serving their own interests that invariably result in manifesting tensions and inherent resistive inertia. So, the question is how do you mobilise innovation successfully in a multi-business organisation?
Creating innovation demonstrators that are ‘on-the-edge’ of the business remain to be one of the effective ways for a multi-business organisation to achieve a better response time in securing value from innovation, thus yielding a more constructive alignment with the strategic business goals. Innovation ‘on-the-edge’ provides a distinct push on performance levels. It attracts motivated groups of multidisciplinary individuals who are often risk-takers, able to trade-off choices around the organisational challenges. We call them team “X”, the innovation transformation team.
Establishing team X is the the starting point for kick-starting innovation initiatives. Arming team X with a separate budget and a practical set of innovation tools and techniques, such as design thinking and business model canvas, is an essential enablement requisite. From experience, there are three weak links that impede the time to achieve sustainable and timely results from innovation. The first lies in organisation’s inability to disaggregate its innovation initiatives from the R&D function’s influence when addressing market and product challenges. In this case, secondment of R&D representatives to team X presents a possible solution. The second is related to that of disentangling the often HR influenced change management interventions from the newly formed innovation initiatives. In this case separating the HR interventions is a must to ensure faster turnaround results from the innovation initiatives. Early outcomes from the innovation initiatives should then be used to define the focus for future cultural transformation. And the third is centred on systemising the process of innovation to ensure maximum learning is gained from the innovation initiatives to drive and support the delivery of impactful outcomes. Here, the early adoption of frameworks such as the Investor in Innovations will serve to optimise the chances of the organisation achieving an acceptable level of innovations and ensuring a pipeline of innovation is developed. Senior leaders would need to exercise thoughtfulness in forming innovation ‘on the edge’ initiatives and use some of their middle managers as ‘intelligent connectors’, to join up the initiatives, thereby demonstrating the value created and captured from the innovation initiatives to the organisation and to its clients and stakeholders.