Saturday, July 22, 2017

CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer”: How to Improve Organizational Innovation Maturity

Fundamentally, innovation is the state of mind to think and do things from a new angle.

Many say digital is the age of innovation. Today, innovation can happen anywhere, anytime; it expands both horizontally and vertically. It’s the business’s unique capability to gain a competitive advantage in the face of fierce competition and business dynamic. More fundamentally, it’s the state of mind to think and do things from a new angle. Innovation is no longer “nice to have,” but “Must Have” differentiated capability of the organizations who want to stay competitive on the market. However, innovation management has a very low success rate, how to manage innovation effectively and improve the organizational innovation maturity?

Creativity must be embedded into the “DNA” of the business: Creativity in the "corporate" world has a lot to do with fostering a creative environment. You have to live it and breathe it every day, otherwise, you would feel stuck. It has to become your business routine, corporate culture to renew creativity energy. Innovation will happen when people are given free space to be creative without rigid structures, bureaucratic management or risk avoidance attitude to hold them back. The company dedicates sufficient human and financial resources to its innovation programs and structures. The company's principles of innovation management are well known and understood throughout. This ensures that innovations will be supported by management and by all stakeholders. Innovative culture is the collective mindset, a way of doing things, risk-taking attitude, doing things differently mentality, asking hard questions, failing and being able to fail again without repercussions. There are three managerial tools for creating a culture of innovation which are policies, programs, and structures, get these management practices right, your organization can build a cohesive set of innovation capabilities and become a high mature innovative business. Get any one of them wrong, and your results will be sub-optimal.

It needs a systematic approach to running a balanced innovation portfolio for building innovation strength continually: Due to the fact that innovating in today’s digital world has become increasingly complex in nature, organizations can no longer rely on a single individual or team to drive innovation. Innovation requires much deeper whole systems, emergent, generative, iterative and integrative approach. There are robust processes and tools that enable an entity to generate winning concepts for innovation management on the consistent basis and via an iterative approach. It requires much more time, energy, passion, courage, experimentation, retreat, and reflection to get clear and focused on the innovative idea, business model, process or solution, and to then enact, embody and execute in a disciplined way. This requires an effective 'innovation ecosystem' that is capable of supporting both widespread incremental innovation in products/services and ways of working as well as the rarer 'step-change' innovation in products/services, methodology, business model, and market positioning. Digital organizations as the information hub can become the hotbed to nurture and incubate great ideas, to design robust, but not overly rigid processes and dynamic capability for innovation management.

Assessing and managing innovation performance effectively is also critical for improving innovation maturity: Assessing and managing innovation performance is challenging because the leading indicators of successful innovation are not only financial. There are efforts to put on both idea generation and idea implementation, hard innovation, and soft innovation. But generally speaking, the innovation performance indicators should focus on the business objectives and desired behaviors. An organization’s innovation performance could be measured in terms of its ability to convert the ideas that enter the ‘Innovation Pipeline’ into the desired output, propositions, process improvement etc. It is not easy to define how much was generated from innovation, but there are rough estimates such as new products, improved services, cost savings due to innovation in internal processes. The performance indicators are the best tools available for innovation managers that wish to promote continuous innovation within an organization. The problem is that the KPIs to measure success in business have so often been predominantly financial in nature. The key is to properly measure innovation performance, not only the direct outcome from innovation management but also process innovation which helps to build the culture of innovation and hold people accountable for bringing premium innovation result and improving the maturity level of innovation management.

Improving innovation maturity is important for the ultimate business success. Innovation is a culture more than anything. Innovation can have brand effect as well if the large successful organizations once have established themselves as innovation thought leaders or indeed product/service innovation leaders often trade on their brand. The success rate of innovation can be improved through increasing innovation maturity and optimizing key success factors for innovation management more effectively.


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