For all the talk about innovation, in business books, blogs, and boardrooms, few companies have figured out how to make innovation a way of life. Too often innovation is still something that happens occasionally, in pockets, rather than everywhere, all the time. What limits innovation in most organizations isn’t a lack of resources or a shortage of human creativity, but a dearth of pro-innovation values, structures, and processes. In too many organizations one finds …
- Few, if any, employees who have been trained as business innovators.
- No commonly agreed-upon definition of innovation and hence no way of comparing innovation performance across teams and divisions.
- A jumble of bureaucratic hurdles that makes it difficult for innovators to get the time and resources they need to test their ideas.
- A lack of explicit innovation goals and line managers who aren’t held accountable for mentoring new business initiatives.
- Compensation and promotion criteria that don’t explicitly include innovation performance
- Innovation metrics that are patchy and poorly constructed.
Most of our management methods were designed (a very long time ago) to promote discipline, control, alignment and predictability—all laudable goals, and all potentially antagonistic to innovation. The real innovation challenge is innovating around innovation itself. In the same way that companies have reinvented their business processes (sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and customer support) for the sake of efficiency and agility, they must now reinvent their management processes (planning, training, resource allocation, measurement, hiring, compensation, etc.) for the sake of innovation
How can we retune our management processes so they become powerful catalysts, rather than barriers, to innovation? How do we make innovation an every day, every person capability?