Most experts believe that innovation will be a primary theme in the success of business going forward. However, there is great debate on the level of control or focus a company needs to place on its idea generating practices. Our sustainability is intrigued by this discussion, and we incorporate all viewpoints to enhance our understanding.
While some social media engagement enthusiasts believe that the doors should be opened to the complete array of possible ideas, others feel that innovation requires direction. The recent Innovation of Purpose article, Innovation - Fast and Slow, explores this creativity/control balance.
“Many organizations are frustrated that their innovation activities move far too slowly. In these cases there's usually less emphasis on innovation from the top, and corporate bureaucracy and inertia simply stymie innovation attempts. Interesting to see that corporate inertia and resistance can quickly become a runaway train given the involvement and focus of a committed senior executive. The issue or challenge in both cases is that passion or commitment - or the lack of it - is just one ingredient in doing innovation well.”
Exploring the ‘focused innovation’ conversation further, our sustainability consulting is reminded that managing ideas that work can be difficult if not impossible without a defined set of processes, a transparent evaluation template and a reasonable amount of training. We refer back to a previous post, which provides tips to initiate a ‘focused’ sustainable innovation program.
- Assign people to the team who are passionate about change and about innovation. In fact, seek volunteers.
- Assign people to a team and free them up from their regular job, and describe how they'll return to the job or a better one at the end of the innovation effort.
- Understand the broad set of skills necessary and when they are necessary. Trend spotters are needed early, ideators in the middle, idea managers and evaluators late
- The individual who leads the innovation initiative must be a strong motivator, well connected and open to radical change. He or she will "make or break" the rest of the team, so choose your leader carefully.
From our sustainability consulting experience, it is clear that innovation will be essential for businesses to thrive and survive over the next decade. However, Taiga Company encourages every organization to find the right balance within its own creative stakeholder networks.