This is the fourth of several ‘Innovation Perspectives‘ articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on ‘Should companies treat innovation management as a core competence? And if so, how?’. Here is the next perspective in the series:
by Jose Mello
How to create an innovation strategy that fits the organization needs and culture?
Innovation management, for sure, is a core competence to be developed in all companies. It is the best way of creating sustainable growth and surviving in such competitive scenario. But how to create an innovation strategy that fits the organization needs and culture?
First of all, the company needs to think about what is your motivation to innovation. The employees of a company won´t become more innovative just because their senior management wants them to be. It is necessary to identify what is your reason to innovate, a common reason that will create an environment where innovation could be nurtured and grown.
Many strategies could be applied, from a total internal development department to a venture capital approach. There is no right or wrong, because innovation is not a single path and different strategies will bring different results to different companies. It´s necessary to understand what makes more sense to your kind of business and, also, to your organizational culture. But one thing cannot be forgotten, you need to understand who is your client, how is he/she connected to your products and services and how do they live and behave in such chaotic and changing world. And you won´t be able to see that through the window of your headquarter building. You need to go outside and see how people behave in real life. There is a Brazilian song from a highly respected singer called Milton Nascimento that says “The poet needs to be where his public is” – and not the opposite. Some companies invite clients to their opulent headquarters and put them together in a meeting with other clients and the boards of directors, expecting them to say what are their needs. That is the same of taking a Lion from its habitat and put it on a cage to study his alimentary behaviors. It is not going to work. An approach that is becoming more popular due to its results is the Human Centered Design approach which is a good way of understanding your clients needs and design products and services that are really connected to their lives and make sense to them. All of the most innovative companies we admire use that approach in some way.
The last but not the least, you should think about incentives to engage people into your innovation initiatives. To take part on an innovation effort, the employees need to feel that they are working for themselves and not for the company. It is important to understand what motivates people to engage into a new project and reward them for the success of this new venture. The employee is a person with needs and dreams, just like anyone else. Partnership is the most important thing to keep in mind. Companies that are achieving success in innovation, just like Google, Siemens and Cisco have created programs based on partnership with employees and even with clients to reward their effort on designing new products and services. The person receives dividends from the products/services they created and developed.
Motivation to innovation, client at the center of your business and partnership with employees are the three pillars that can support your innovation strategy and drive you to treat innovation management as a core competence.
You can check out all of the ‘Innovation Perspectives‘ articles from the different contributing authors on ‘Should companies treat innovation management as a core competence? And if so, how?’ by clicking the link in this sentence.
Jose Mello is a teacher, speaker and a specialist in innovation management at Itau Unibanco Bank, in Brazil.