A good innovation program benefits more than just the bottom line.
There are many reasons organizations seek to harness innovation, ranging from improving operational performance to finding new products and services to bring to market. At its core, the drive for innovation seeks to tap the ideas and insights of the existing workforce rather than looking externally for inspiration.
It’s natural that when organizations seek to measure the value of innovation they tend look to its impact on the broader business, such as new products, enhanced services, and greater operational efficiencies. There is another less tangible and measurable benefit that can be overlooked – the impact and value gained from the individuals involved in innovating. Done well, innovation can contribute to an organizations efforts to attract and retain talent.
Many, if not most, organizations have a structure and cadence of operations intended to support consistency in operations. This often provides little leeway to consider, let alone implement, new approaches and ideas due to the need to maintain delivery, established lines of authority, and fear of disruption. In establishing a culture of innovation, leadership needs to recognize potential impediments and design the program to address them.
Establish a program that recognizes that innovation is about people. A good innovation program will foster new ideas and insights across the organization. To aid this, leadership needs to ensure that innovation does not become siloed into special groups or specific departments, and that organizational biases do not discriminate against who or where good ideas come from.
Understand that talented people want to do something. A common trait of talented people is that they are motivated as much by recognition as by reward. A well-designed innovation program provides an accessible means to propose and work on tangible projects with a direct tie to the mission of the organization rather than an MBA case study or artificial construct that of high-performance development programs are often composed.
Use innovation programs to identify, develop, and retain talent. In providing a structure outside of the traditional hierarchy, an innovation program can foster the generation of ideas from entrepreneurial thinkers and contributors from across the organization. It also provides leadership with the opportunity to guide and foster talented people by providing executive sponsorship and mentoring to guide ideas and maintain alignment with company strategy.
In developing a program that focuses on harnessing innovation while minimizing disruption to ongoing operations, leadership can use innovation as a vehicle to develop and retain talent, establish a positive perception of change, and mitigate inherent resistance from within the organization’s structure.
RG’s innovation methodology provides a pragmatic, structured approach to understanding the challenges and harnessing innovation aligned with the strategic goals of an organization.