The Role of Governance needed in Innovation

Questions for GovernanceLater this month a book I have looked forward too, is finally being launched. It is called “Innovation Governance: How Top Management Organizes and Mobilizes for Innovation” written by Jean-Philippe Deschamps & Beebe Nelson.  Jean-Philippe Deschamps is emeritus Professor of Technology and Innovation Management at IMD in Lausanne (Switzerland).

Innovation Governance is promising to provide a comprehensive framework to help top management develop the overarching values, policies and initiatives needed for a corporate innovation constitution. The authors are providing a framework for encouraging and focusing innovation by explaining what innovation governance is, the various models for governance and their advantages and disadvantages, how to assess and improve governance practices, and behavioural tactics for maximizing the effectiveness of governance.

I think the book is timely, perhaps well overdue, and seeks to address one of those topics where you observe significant variance across organizations on governance. I’m looking forward to reading it when it is released on 24th March 2014.

Governance is central too much of how we should go about innovation.

I’m not jumping ahead of this book, actually I’m catching up. Within the Executive Innovation Work Mat approach, Governance is one of the seven essential domains we ask senior executives to gather around. I’ve not posted on this apart from a short piece sometime back and wanted to make some amends to this oversight.

Also it will be interesting once I get my hands on this forthcoming book how it alters and extends my thinking on this important part of innovation management, I’m sure it will.

Let me start on opening up  on my thinking around Governance

Governance 1

  • Innovation has moved well beyond a nice to have, it has become an essential to have. Our organizations are still failing to link this fully up in their strategic alignment, in their integrated thinking or breaking down innovation’s essential parts to build this into a core capability. Today innovation should be organized in a mature fashion, governance certainly helps on this.
  • Establishing a formal innovation governance structure is in its ‘forming’ days for many organizations. They have parts of this well thought through and have left other essential parts with wide open gaps that those aware can drive a ‘coach and horse through’. Working on a more comprehensive innovation governance structure should move beyond something ‘we’ think we need, into that of a must have.
  • Innovation is about risk, managing many unknowns and uncertainties, it often becomes hard to allocate a ROI when it is still passing through its different prototyping and learning stages. Organizations continue to demand ROI’s in all shapes and sizes and often this can kill off many promising ideas. A closer monitoring, measuring, refining and defining of innovation activities through better and more sensible governance guidelines would advance innovation well.
  • If we continue to apply ‘little’ governance to innovation or allow ‘selective’ governance determined by individuals, we open up the tap for criticism, cynicism and favouritism. Establishing clear, robust, open and transparent governance systems and structures creates a far better atmosphere and understanding of how innovation is being judged.
  • A well designed system of alignment to strategic goals, clear milestones that provide the flexibility any early stage discovery and piloting of a concept requires managing well. Building the confidence at the decision makers table for conveying trust and belief through imaginative milestone deliveries would make a huge difference to thinking innovation. Governance works both ways in its value and place. By having a good and imaginative one, you use it.
  • Governance needs to resist the bureaucracy that can come with this task. Governance can resolve conflicts, it can aid allocation of resource issues, it can be a great early warning post for changing scope, adjusting ambition up or down and can be the ‘working group’ that alerts and informs besides supporting and encouraging.
  • Governance should be a constant top management priority to have clear line of sight within the management of its total business, innovation by being drawn into governance can also give a ‘beating heart’ to innovation’s position and designing the process and its content make up.
  • Innovation becomes highly valued by all those involved in its management, if it is managed well and thoughtfully. Those wanting to measure the innovation contribution and align these more to the top management’s desire for better innovation to deliver on their growth aspirations, then investing in good Governance structures will aid this. Innovation needs to be more central and Governance can help position it there.
  • Of course, treat Governance like your innovation activities, often understaffed and under-resourced and what you get is what you often deserve, a poor result from your restricted efforts. Often with Governance constructed on the ‘fly’, simply allowed to be cobbled together you get a poor result. It does more damage to the climate for innovation.
  • All good things need appropriate mechanism when you deal with scale. Governance needs proper funding mechanisms, scope definitions, appropriate targets, time frames, realistic and flexible measurements, a fair level of agility, a tight well-honed reporting and set of evaluation metrics. Innovation needs to be well designed and structured; Governance plays an important part in this.

I really hope this new book will deliver on Innovation’s Governance central place.

The value of the forthcoming book I think will address many of these issues and more. Governance of innovation in a comprehensive manner might have arrived, for it to significantly contribute to the momentum that well-designed innovation requires today, one that supports and meets the more complex and demanding challenges being faced in our organizations on managing within their innovation activities.

I’m looking forward to March 24th and the book launch, as Governance for me and the Executive Innovation Work Mat does bring innovation into a more central position. Governance forms a core component for successful innovation engagement and the support it can give our senior managers to become more engaged in innovation.

Governance can give better mechanisms for managing the ‘line of sight’ required at the top of our organisations to give greater confidence in the decision-making that needs to take place. Good governance helps frame that decision-making process and our innovation activities sorely need this.

7 thoughts on “The Role of Governance needed in Innovation

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