Is innovation just a buzz word or reality for businesses today? According to Andrew Graham, CEO of Kepner-Tregoe, Inc., “The factors that must be in place to support innovation are not a mystery. Companies that rely on ‘innovative thought’ to advance their product development, sales and customer service processes must be sure that they close any gaps in their capacity to encourage and support this breakthrough thinking.”
So how can you tell if your business has the proper factors in place? You can perform your own “innovation health check” by looking closely at some key variables.
Does your organization have a clear strategy? Strategy defines the field in which an organization operates and involves questions such as “what products will the firm offer and how much will the firm invest in each?”
Do your company’s business processes measure up? Business processes are the workflows through which business is conducted. Consider, “How can we do this better” or “How would we do this if we had no constraints?” Ask, do we have methods in place for addressing innovation issues?
Does your organization have clear goals and do you measure results? In order to be innovative, your company must have clear, strategy-driven expectations for innovation. Goals must be defined and measured and results must be reported.
Do employees have the inherent skills or the tools necessary to learn to be innovative? Hiring innovative people is one way to foster innovation, but innovation skills and knowledge can also be taught, and creativity nurtured.
Leadership is critical to success. This is the overarching factor that affects all of the other variables of innovation. Leaders must establish an organization’s strategy and ensure that innovation goals are being met, successes and failures measured, and innovative people developed and supported.
But that’s not all. Other factors that can make or break an organization’s ability to innovate are structural and cultural. Do information systems enable people to share ideas and learn from the past? Are structures and roles impeding innovation or enabling it to blossom? Does the culture — including the reward system — encourage innovation?
What do you think? Leave me a comment.