Lack of Ownership, Lack of Direction; No Innovation

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A small team of corporate innovators wonders why they are in trouble with their innovation initiatives. As we dive into a discussion on this, the reasons for this become quite obvious.

No one really owns innovation within the company. No one has taken responsibility. This lack of ownership results in a lack of direction and thus no one can really wonder why they are in trouble.

This company was fairly new to innovation and since it was not a R&D driven company, they did not have the anchor in the R&D function that we see in many companies.

So the key question is who should own innovation. Here you get some thoughts on this:

R&D driven companies should change their approach. Too often, too much power is placed into the hands of the VP of R&D or the CTO in companies that has substantial – and historically based – R&D activities in order to bring out their technology and products. Such companies often fall into the trap of building a not-invented-here culture, which is dangerous as we experience the paradigm shift to open innovation.

The VP or CTO should still be a significant player – and maybe even still be the owner – but you need to set up ways in which you bring along input from the other corporate functions and external sources. Innovation is not the same as R&D and today the business models around the technologies and products are just as important as the technology itself.

Many marketing driven companies are already late. Let’s use fast moving consumer good companies as an example here. This industry or types of companies are the leaders of the open innovation movement. We see lots of good initiatives here, which also means that those companies that do not get this are already way behind.

A key reason for success here is that the innovation efforts are spread across different business functions and are being led by executives – or committees – with a strong understanding on these different functions need to work together. If you don’t get this and make sure all business functions must be involved in bringing external input into the innovation process, you know why you are falling behind. An example of a company doing this well is General Mills, which has a multi-faceted approach to innovation including their prized G-Win initiative for open innovation.

New to innovation companies should look to the top: Of course, all of the types of companies mentioned here need a strong executive commitment to innovation, but this is even more important to companies such as the one I mentioned in the beginning. If the CEO understands the need for innovation and see how innovation management is maturing – as well as changing towards open innovation and business model innovation – he will himself in charge of this by hand-picking the people needed to build up the corporate innovation capability and by given this team full public support.

Here we can think of the financial services industry where we see some elements of this approach at DBS, a Singapore based financial institution. Check this article about their 2ndgeneration Chief Innovation Officer driven by a push by their CEO.

Just my thoughts. Let me know what you can add.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.

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