Embedding Innovation in Organizational DNA: The Winners of the Innovating Innovation Challenge
What company today doesn’t put innovation at the top of the agenda? Yet how many companies have devoted the energy and resources it takes to build innovation into the values, processes, and practices that rule everyday activity and behavior? Not many, as we argued when we launched the Innovating Innovation Challenge in October.
That disconnect isn’t due to lack of human ingenuity or resources. It’s a product of organizational DNA. Productivity, predictability, and alignment are embedded in the marrow of our management systems. Experimentation, risk-taking, and variety are the enemy of the efficiency machine that is the “modern” corporation. Of course, it’s variety (and the daring to be different) that produces game-changing innovation.
So, how do we make every management process a catalyst, rather than a wet blanket, for innovation? How do we make innovation a true core competence? While we didn’t expect to find many organizations that had woven innovation into every element of their management model—from hiring and training to tools and metrics to values and leadership to experimental methodologies to headspace and elbow room—we did hope to discover individuals and teams making real progress on important pieces of the puzzle.
A few months and 140 superb contributions from a diverse group of in-the-trenches management innovators later, we’ve zeroed in on a set of winning entries that represent some of the world’s most daring and comprehensive approaches to making innovation an everyday, everywhere capability.
Today, we’re delighted to announce the ten winners of the Innovating Innovation Challenge, the first leg of this year’s HBR/McKinsey M-Prize for Management Innovation. But first, we’d like to acknowledge, again, the 24 finalists, whose superb stories and hacks made for some wrenching decision making. A huge thank you to all of the challengers with the imagination and daring to take on the status quo—and the generosity to share what they’ve learned in the process.
The Winners of the Innovating Innovation Challenge (in alphabetical order)
Managing for 21st Century Crime Prevention in Memphis
Story by Toney Armstrong, Memphis Police Department
An inspiring story of transformation from a traditional bureaucracy to a vibrant innovation culture in which the insights and observations of every individual from edge to edge not only matter, but produce immediate impact and make the organization continuously smarter.
Democratizing Entrepreneurship: Village Capital's Peer Selection Model
Story by Ross Baird, Village Capital
An exciting and powerful model for cultivating, evaluating, funding, and growing new ideas—and a detailed recipe for unleashing the power of peer review in any organization.
Case Coelce - Inspiring Innovation for Traditional Work Environments
Story by Luiz De Gonzaga Coelho Junior, co-authored by Odailton Arruda, Coelce
An honest and human account (dead ends and all) of developing a continuous innovation capability in an electricity distributor in the poorest region in Brazil.
Story by Ashley Good, Engineers Without Borders Canada
The “Failure Report” is a refreshing and bold practice that takes the tired mantra of “embracing failure” and turns it into a way of life for an organization—and a provocative invitation to all of its partners.
Sustainability as Innovation Strategy: How Sustainability and Innovation Drive Each Other and Company Competitiveness at Danone
Story by Monica Kruglianskas, Danone, co-authored by Marc Vilanova, ESADE Business School
This story unpacks Danone’s singular approach to embedding sustainability in its innovation agenda and innovation in its approach to sustainability. A case study in how to bring values to life, unleash the spirit of experimentation, and scale new ideas and practices.
Democratize Innovation - for sustained innovation culture
Story by Lalgudi Ramanathan Natarajan, Titan Industries
A multiplex approach to layering in innovation capabilities from the shop floor up in India’s largest jewelry and watch retailer. The Titan story is a down-to-earth account of true social innovation—both in terms of the process and the result.
Whirlpool’s Innovation Journey: An on-going quest for a rock-solid and inescapable innovation capability
Story by Moises Norena, Whirlpool, co-authored by JD Rapp
The state of the art when it comes to developing innovation as a core competence. Whirlpool changed its organizational DNA to embrace innovation at the deepest level and unpacks the journey in generous detail here.
Unleashing Inclusive Innovation at Cisco
Story by Kate O’Keeffe, co-authored by John Marsland, Carlos Pignataro and Lisa Voss, Cisco
A thorough and instructive account of working every lever and animating an entire organization—from the bottom up and the top down—to embrace innovation.
Project Bushfire - Focusing the might of an entire organization on the Consumer & Customer
Story by Stephen Remedios, The Stephen Remedios Company, co-authored by Aswath Venkataraman, Sandeep Ramesh, Shruti Kashyap and Shashwat Sharma, Hindustan Unilever
A compelling, homegrown practice for jolting a vast organization into tight communion with the marketplace—and a recipe for seeing around corners, energizing every last person in the company, and closing the gaps between “sense” and “respond.”
Is managed innovation an oxymoron?
Story by Kumar Sachidanandam, Cognizant
A comprehensive and illuminating story of how one organization tackled the über challenge of building innovation into its management model—with powerful insights on wrestling with the right big questions.
Congratulations to all of the winners and the organizations behind them! We’ll be unpacking many of these stories and others from the Innovating Innovation Challenge here in the weeks to come. In the meantime, stay tuned for the launch of the second leg of the HBR/McKinsey M-Prize here in early March.