Innovation companies are very much alike in the sense that they’re built on entrepreneurs for purple innovation mcdonough ga and their drive to improve the world.
However, every company is unique in how they do this. Some innovation companies specialize in a specific sector or industry; others take a more general approach. Some innovate from within (investments, R&D), while others focus on external ideas (open innovation).
1. Decide where and how to innovate
With open innovation, the most difficult part is knowing what to look for. Most companies have a clear understanding of the market they serve and the challenges it faces, yet they are not always so good at seeing new opportunities. That’s why you have to be proactive – scan as many channels and sources as possible (external as well as internal) – to find potential ideas.
Besides “traditional” innovation, like R&D or investments, you can also optimize your business environment with small-scale experiments or pilot projects: try something out in a phase before going all-in.
Similarly, other companies innovate by taking advantage of their strengths. That’s why your Innovation Action Plan should emphasize your strengths as much as weaknesses and look for opportunities to improve them.
2. Align the right people with the right ideas
The best innovation teams are often small, do not make full use of their intellectual capital and rarely have enough budget to perform experiments. That’s why it is important to align the right people with the right ideas – or better yet, let them do both! – and set clear boundaries on what they can achieve in order to stay focused on the key results they need to deliver each month.
3. Sustain the innovation culture
A good process is essential, but it will not be enough to ensure success. You need to establish and maintain an innovation culture that drives breakthrough innovations in your company.
As with any culture, a strong innovation culture should be made of three main elements: leadership, a set of common beliefs and purpose.
As a leader, you need to take the lead and make sure that your team understands why they need to innovate and how it will allow them to win over competitors in their market. As an entrepreneur with new ideas, you must be able to convince others of the viability of these ideas so that your team is motivated enough to act on them.
And as CEO, you must align your actions with your purpose so that the whole team understands what’s at stake for everyone in the innovation journey.
4. Carefully assess market opportunities
When it comes to innovation, there is no magic formula that tells you which idea is going to fly. That’s why it takes a comprehensive approach, from analyzing your industry and competitive landscape to understanding the needs of the market and the risks involved.
Once the opportunity has been identified, it’s important not to jump too quickly into a project – research should be conducted before any decision is made about what tools and techniques might be used. So before you decide whether to invest in R&D or enter a new market, let your team know that this is an important decision for your company.
5. Start small and build momentum
Most innovation companies grow slowly: their rate of change is low and they tend to focus on building the core value of their company, rather than experimenting with new ideas. That’s why it is important to be patient and not waste valuable resources pursuing projects that are unlikely to succeed.
Let your teams know you’re willing to invest in them equally (not just financially) – that you are willing to take risks in order to innovate together.
And ultimately, don’t let yourself be defined by your mistakes but by your successes.
Alberto Blanco is a board director of Innosight. He has worked in the innovation industry since 1994 and has led the Global Innovation Labs at ITA Software (formerly Informatica), where he fulfilled multiple roles: CTO, EVP of Research & Development, Vice President of Product Management and Director of Global Sales & Marketing. Alberto is also an Entrepreneurs’ Organization mentor and has served on the EO’s executive committee as a member of its audit committee. Prior to ITA Software, Alberto was VP Product Development at Information Architects – a company that pioneered the software as a service concept in the U.S. – and Director of Management Consulting at iLearn, both based in Austin, Texas. In his 10 years at iLearn and Information Architects, Alberto transformed the way companies design and deploy software solutions. As a member of the management team at United Parcel Service (UPS), he led their global SAP ERP implementation, one of the largest SAP implementations to date. While at UPS, Alberto also served on several boards including EUNAP – the European Startup Alliance – serving as Chairman from 2004-2006 and Treasurer from 2007-2011. Alberto has taught strategy for several years as an adjunct professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management where he teaches courses on innovation and entrepreneurship.