Everyone Wants to be Innovative and Most Fail

Everyone wants to be innovative

And guess what?…corporate culture is not the answer!

While many companies dream of becoming Apple, most linger in the same innovation-lite purgatories associated today with RIM, Kodak, and Sony.sumo suit online

Meanwhile, despite their best efforts and historical legacy, countless other organizations are no longer distinguished by the successful commercialization of great ideas. Perhaps the problem is in their organizational culture.

A new report on innovation produced by Booz & Company — Global Innovation 1000 — which is forthcoming in the Winter 2011 edition of Strategy + Culture argues that organizational culture is the culprit. The report observes:

  • Only about half of all companies say that their corporate culture robustly supports their innovation strategy.
  • About the same proportion say their innovation strategy is inadequately aligned with their overall corporate strategy

The report’s observation on the lack of a statistically significant relationship between financial performance and innovation spending emphasizes that innovative success is not a function of spending-might but of the environment in which any such investment takes place.

Overall, the study says that “intangibles, such as risk, creativity, openness, and collaboration — are critical for [innovation] success.”

Merely wishing for these changes in corporate culture is not enough; companies must focus-in-on the leadership acts and managerial choices that will raise the probability of companies achieving one or more of these aspirations.

Every organizational manager can make a difference in how innovative their organization can be, beginning with a precise and inspiring vision of the role that innovation will play in the organization’s vision of strategic success. Global Innovation 1000 cites HP’s Prith Banerjee, SVP of Research and Director of HP Labs, who provides a fourfold mission for the HP Labs business unit:

  • Create absolutely breakthrough technologies
  • Create new business opportunities for HP
  • Advance the state of the art in whatever we do
  • Engage with customers and partners

What must follow this mission statement is a recognition of discrete and concrete managerial choices that will raise the probability of HP Labs (in this example) achieving these aspirations.

Jay Galbraith of IMD created the “star model,” which identifies the five “levers” by which managers can move an organization:

  • Articulation of strategic vision
  • Developing the talent and skills that are necessary to achieve this vision
  • Understand the best way to organize your talent and skills to achieve the vision
  • Providing processes that can be employ to give your talent a higher probability of success
  • Create the values, measures and rewards by which we inspire, evaluate and compensate our talent.

There are signs that the most successful innovators making such specific managerial choices, that they are doing it in such a fashion that each choice directly supports the aspirational vision that has been announced, and that each choice reinforces every other choice. They must guard against conflicting choices that will slow them down, and they must synchronize the timing of their choices to the extent possible in order not to entertain disconnects caused by the sequential timing of the managerial choices.

Need help improving your company culture contact a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to discuss your company’s future.

Forbes (10/24/11) Fischer, Bill

Web: www.embercarriers.com|Twitter: www.twitter.com/embercarriers|LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mhladio

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