ENGAGE the organization
to solve the Corporate
Get results. Fast.
Many companies are not satisfied
with results they get
from investing into innovation.
We call this the Corporate Innovation Problem™.
Built on academic research and Best Practices,
our ENGAGE model provides a solution.
For the annual Forbes ‘Most innovative companies’ list, MIT filters out those global Big Corporates that have the highest ‘innovation premium‘.
These companies were then researched by MIT and Brigham Young University. The question: What sets them apart from their peers in the early phase of innovation?
We added to this the innovation success recipes of top innovators with a smaller market cap.
And we added these aspects that determine innovation success in the interface between the front-end of innovation and the back-end.
ENGAGE: A solid foundation for an innovation system
which increases your Return On Innovation.
Our ENGAGE model works on two assumptions.
Firstly, your company’s innovation strategy is right. You are clear on where to innovate, the types of innovation (products, services, business models, etc.), the timing strategy (first-to-market, fast follower, etc.), where to be open and where not, where to allocate how much funds, etc.
Secondly, your company’s basic innovation structures and processes work.
Then there are six cornerstones for upgrading your innovation management system to increase Return on Innovation.
Executive Support: Solving the Corporate Innovation Problem™ compels Top Management engagement. This goes well beyond using the I-word in presentations – in some cases, the term “innovation” may even be overused. Six things are needed: Operationalize innovation strategy; Make innovation a permanent bullet point on the Management agenda; Align the management system (KPIs, governance, etc.) so that it fosters innovation; Change role from “Decision Maker” to “Chief Experimenter”; Being visible on the “innovation shop floor”; Drive the culture change.
Networks of coaches / catalysts: Research shows that for success in innovation, individual creativity and intelligence matter far less than connections and networks. That is why companies from diverse industries such as Chemicals, Software and Aerospace have set up an internal network of ‘innovation catalysts’ within the Business Units and functions. These catalysts have six main tasks: Communication of innovation ambitions and priorities; Support individual innovators; Motivating people to come up with their idea; Organizing idea generation; Escalation of proposals necessitating corporate innovation intervention; Working on new innovation frontiers.
Get the people out in the field: Too few people working on innovation have direct customer contact. Getting people out is a good way to “walk in the customer’s shoes” and to connect internal expertise to the ultimate aim of innovation: Providing a solution for unmet customer needs that the customer is willing to pay for. The results one gets are quite astonishing. One observes not only an energized atmosphere but also tangible results. However, getting people out in the field needs to be an organized process and people should be prepared to avoid confirmation bias.
Allocate resources and advance the culture: People need some resources with respect to time and money to foster innovation. However, this alone is not enough. In many companies, KPIs are geared towards efficiency and “0 mistakes” and people act accordingly. However, if innovation is aimed at adjacent or new markets or technologies, at unfamiliar types of innovation (e.g. business model innovation or Smart Products) this will stifle innovation. This is because in these situations the interface between the “creative” and the “execution phase” is usually far less defined than in incremental innovation. In order to foster innovation. there needs to be a “fail fast, fail forward” innovation culture.
Grow the skills base: Many companies have innovation in a top spot on the Management Agenda. But only few go on to systematically develop innovation skill set and mindset competencies for their staff. This would mean to come up with a list of soft and hard skills that the will be included in the different HR development programs. We have found that innovation skill set and mindset base needs to have four components: Design Thinking; Business Thinking (Finding and detailing profitable and viable services / business models); Systems Thinking (Understanding dependencies and the wider ecosystem of problems and solutions); Innovation Leadership.
Enterprise-grade IT systems: Many companies have IT systems for capturing ideas. The problem with most of them is that they were developed in the mid-2000s – which in IT terms is ancient history. Modern systems address the realities of today’s innovation management: Fully integrated into people’s IT work desks; Elicit meaningful insights from the noise in the business environment via Big Data; Automatically connect new ideas with existing ones; Available on desktop and on mobile platforms; Find relevant experts for ideas and concepts from inside the company and beyond; Seamlessly integrated with other systems in the early phase of innovation, e.g. R&D lab journals.