As I already wrote in a previous article, the lonely innovator is a myth (in french). You need an adequate ecosystem both inside and outside your organisation to innovate wisely and fast.
Innovation comes from the inside
Of course without a strong commitment of your organisation, your team will hardly innovate. The recipe to have a strong innovation mindset within your company is key but difficult to find. Many attempts will be made before finding all the necessary ingredients and quantities. However, some fundamentals can be listed:
- Strong involvement of the management, from top to low level.
From my point of view that’s the most important point. People have to see that innovation is clearly a strategic goal and according to that goal, management acts to achieve it. It will also give a lot of confidence and energy to the innovation team which will have hard times and deserts to cross.
- Available tools. Good tooling doesn’t make a bad worker a good one but it can help, definitely help. Among the tools that helps innovation we can list:
- creativity method: there are a lot out there. I use a 5 diamond one that have been developed some +10 years ago and which I now help to keep alive and align on best practice. A must have.
- Innovation Lab: Mine has two areas : One to be creative, work on business model canvas, have an open mind etc… The second is really a FabLab with prototyping and mock-ups possibilities, a 3D printer, an arduino test bench etc…
- A dedicated location. Your innovation Lab can be this area where people know they can go to organise meetings, meet-ups to think a bit differently. In our lab, walls are of different colours (it also helps to define the different areas), quotes are on the walls, magazines and newspapers are on the table, nice coloured chairs…
- Some kind of freedom. Most organisation use a very defined and limited process to handle R&D and even Innovation. Having a dedicated process to handle innovation is already fine (it show also the management interest if they deal with another process 😉 ) but it has to be faster, easier, smother and more agile than the existing ones. At the end it gives some more freedom and possibilities to the employees to test… eventually fail but may be succeed.
If I set everything upwards, I am done to innovate? Not really…
You will not innovate alone
Really few organisation are able to innovate by themselves. One can list some like Intel, Google, IBM… not even sure that Apple would have been what it is now by itself. Some Must-Have should be put in place by your innovation team:
- Connection to the academic world and best schools
Very few companies have the abilities to develop cutting-edge technologies by themselves. Early access to coming technologies is key to disrupt your market and achieve the so-called blue ocean. To do so, you have to deploy a net all around you and especially at top universities, engineering schools… Don’t forget to map the business schools around you as more and more innovation are on the business model side. In Lyon where I work, I have around me and connection with a top university, 2 of the most successful engineering schools and a top 3 business school. that’s key.. and also key to source wonderful interns 😉
- Connection to your peers
Benchmarking your practices is really healthy to innovate faster and to not being stick in a way that doesn’t work that good. finding your peers is really powerful. It gives you a good view of the best practices and help you to position your innovation process among what exists in the place. I have access myself to more than 30 peers, innovation managers of directors of established companies with who I share our approach and practices. Fairly efficient. Even to exchange technologies and suppliers if your business are far enough.
- Connection to the entrepreneurs world, from start-ups to mid sized companies
I do it using 2 ways. First the business Union and the french Industry council: works fine. However the best way to get in touch with what is going on is to go out of our frontiers. I have taken parts to Start-ups week-ends, meet-ups, presentations, pitch challenges… that helps a lot.
- Connection to officials
Don’t forget to have connections with officials and of course mainly those dealing with the business side. Depending of your country and town, they can be from the state, the region, the city or some specialized council. Don’t forget it because it can really help in some particular cases.
Innovating is a hard job. Put all chances on your side by developing a favourable ecosystem around you. that’s key.
What items would you add to this ecosystem? Please leave a comment.
Opinions are my own.