The State of Innovation Management in 2015 Just Released

tate of Innovation Management HypeAs we come closer to the year-end it’s good to look back, make some dedicated time to take ‘stock’, in this case, on innovation’s progress. In a just released “The State of Innovation Management in 2015” that I have authored and kindly provided by HYPE for free, I believe you will find something of interest that you missed during a busy year, coming to a close. I certainly hope you will find time to go through it.

You’ll gain a valuable and quick insight into critical aspects that innovation managers and CINO’s should be aware of. It is in an easy format of thirty plus pages and offers a reference resource that builds a solid understanding of innovation today regarding relevant factors that will stimulate and support your innovation activity.

http://i.hypeinnovation.com/the-state-of-innovation-2015-report

The Surge of innovation reports in 2015

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Are you dependent on other’s best practices?

best-practices

I often wonder if “best practice” is actually a hidden drug within our organizations that everyone simply craves to be taking.

Why do so many advisory organizations promote best practice? Simply because those in the organization constantly feel under pressure to demonstrate why they are falling behind or keeping ahead of their competitors.

They crave knowing best practices, but tell me what really is the best practice of others really achieving?

If you are behind, best practice informs you and you go into a frantic mode to try and catch up. By the time you have achieved the best practice, it is simply out of date as those practicing this have most likely moved even further on.

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New report: Improving returns on your innovation investment

I highly value the studies that are undertaken by the larger consulting firms. They have the C-level access and geographical reach to give us some critical insights into the progress of innovation.

Recently Arthur D Little provided their latest innovation excellence study, its 8th Global Innovation Excellence Study, into what companies can do to achieve a better return on their investment in innovation management. The report can be downloaded or viewed here and outlines in their opinion what really works in terms of managing the innovation process.

They offer some good pointers and understanding of what differentiates top innovators within and across industries. It also suggests that it provides new insights into what companies can do to achieve a better return on their investment in innovation management. I think it does fall a little short on a depth to support and validate these claims in my opinion, but it does still provides sound insight.

They specifically attempt to focus on understanding what differentiates top innovators from other companies in different industries. Drawing on over 650 responses, the study sheds new light on the basic key question: what innovation management techniques are most important in achieving a better return on innovation investment? The results they suggest are important for any company that wishes to stay competitive.

Overall the report highlights six key insights:

1. There is strong evidence that excellence in innovation management based on Arthur D. Little’s model leads to higher innovation performance.

It is such a pity they lead off with this ‘claim’ adopting their best practices helps to achieve innovation success. I would strongly argue adopting any good, coherent framework will contribute to improving performance, providing you give this the dedicated focus, resources and top management commitment. I think they have put the “cart before the horse” by leading with this.

2. Top quartile innovation performers obtain on average 13% points more profit from new products and services than average performers, and 30% shorter time-to-break-even, although the gap is narrowing.

They argue the gap in best and worst performers has narrowed in recent years and past under-performers can and do catch up and maintaining a lead in innovation performance is getting harder. I’d have liked to have this observation explained or validated some more.

3. Innovation performance achieved has decreased on average since 2010, yet satisfaction with this level of performance has nearly doubled

This is the really  interesting point for me.

Comparing 2010 and 2012 results, they found a significant overall decrease of up to 25% in innovation performance across a range of industries and suggest this may be driven by the tough market conditions of recent years which have forced companies to focus on short term performance, as well as issues specific to certain industries.

In contrast, they found that overall satisfaction with innovation performance increased significantly from 25% to 42%, although the majority of respondents are still dissatisfied. They conclude on this point that this might also reflect recognition that innovation success is getting harder to achieve.

4. There is a clear correlation between capability in innovation measurement and innovation success, yet less than 20% of companies believe they have a good innovation measurement capability.

What they found as more surprising is that less than 20% of companies believe they are better than average in innovation measurement capabilities and indicates the level of dissatisfaction with their efforts to measure innovation performance.

They offer the view this underlines both the inherent difficulty of effective measurement of innovation, and the significant potential for companies to improve their capabilities in this area.

5. Certain innovation management practices have a particularly strong impact on innovation performance

Top innovation performers invest relatively more in radical improvements to products, services and business models, as opposed to incremental improvements. They suggest there are four basic practices but the key, for me, is the one of mobilizing the whole organization to develop new ideas. I would argue mobilization across all that innovation covers is critical, not just new ideas but ideas to commercialization.

6. Top innovators do much better in adopting best practices in accelerating growth

The study found that top innovators are better at identifying unmet needs, fostering an entrepreneurial culture and leveraging existing key competencies.

Another really important point for me that is often understated.

They pick up on it is the organizations ability to overcome important internal challenges such as getting top-management support, enabling fast decision-making and establishing productive cross-functional relationships that gives them innovation leadership.

The conclusion of the study.

The study concludes with the two important insights: there is a strong correlation between adoption of new business growth practices and achieving innovation success and top innovators are more effective at dealing with internal barriers.

I think the study gives encouragement that having a focused, disciplined approach to innovation does make a difference. By tackling the internal barriers successfully will change innovation performance. It is not a ground breaking study but it does offer some helpful focal points to improve organizations performance.

The real disappointment for me?

I still feel disappointed they started off with promoting their own model as blatantly as the reference point to success. I am not a lover of  generalizing around “best practice”. I’m of the school arguing for “emerging practice or novel practice”.

I also wonder if they have not fallen into this old trap of perhaps practice leader’s self-justification for this study, hard as it might seem as a comment. This tends to be for me the older consulting practice approach of self-promotion that I believe actually constrains your perceived value to clients. Today a more detached view seems to offer greater consulting judgement even in best practice observations.

I quote from www.sourceforconsulting.com in a recent article “Consulting firms need to re-think their approach to thought leadership from scratch.  Less money should be frittered away by people writing whatever they want and more invested in centrally co-ordinated thought leadership.  Some seriously innovative thinking needs to go into developing a game-changing approach to content or publication”

I would apply this observation also to this Arthur D Little study. To quote again from the above www.sourceforconsulting.com article “Research is a good example: liberally distributing the results of an expensive survey in your publications used to be a differentiator but even the smallest firms do this now; primary research has to be either very clever or very big to stand out”

My final thoughts

I think the Arthur D Little innovation practice does make a really sound contribution to innovation practices without doubt. I think they can do a whole lot more actually.  I really do think translating their observations from benchmarking and best practice observations can be significantly lifted up in being real value differentiators by extending their existing toolkit at www.adl.com/InnovationExcellence into something more dynamic as a “must go to” source.

They need this deeper thinking through of thought leadership, aligning their innovation practice and the growing knowledge coming into them to provide a distinctive set of offerings . There are surely,  far more imaginative ways to offer us all more value from their studies, from their engagement and practice involvement than simply leading with “strong evidence suggests our model leads to higher innovation performance” and you read on with that growing feeling they are simply working backwards to this opening validation, as you read more of the report.

I think they can do better, they have the capability but not yet the right application and end goal. Innovation and its management needs broader engagement by the larger consultants.

There is a real leading innovation practice space to fill and this goes way beyond existing approaches made by the bigger consultancy firms or the ones exclusively focusing on innovation. A large diverse innovation practice can fill this space but it needs so much more. Will anyone step up to the plate I wonder, it needs it.

Millennials see innovation differently from today’s leaders.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) have provided a set of interesting results from a survey of the world’s future leaders and what they think about innovation released for the World Economic Forum, January 2003

The top line was only 26% of those surveyed believed their current organizations leaders encourage the practices that foster innovation. This indicates a major shift really is needed in the organizational mindset to give innovation the chance to thrive.

The implications are nicely summarized by this statement from Deliotte’s Global CEO. “Innovation at the institutional level is needed to sufficiently shift an organization’s mindset to allow new ideas to truly emerge and thrive,” said Deloitte Global CEO Barry Salzberg. “While our current business leaders can debate how and where to innovate, it’s clear how much importance our future leaders place on innovation—not just as a driver of business growth but also as a catalyst for solving society’s most pressing problems.”

DTTL surveyed close to 5,000 Millennials from 18 countries. When gauging the perception among future leaders about innovation and its impact on society, 84 percent say business innovations have a positive impact on society, and 65 percent feel their own company’s activities benefit society in some way.

For more information and to view the survey results, visit: www.deloitte.com/millennialsurvey

The critical message – can we wait or shift leaders aside who don’t get it?

“A generational shift is taking place in business as baby boomers, many of whom may have been wedded to the ‘old way’ of doing business, begin to step down from their leadership roles to retire,” said Salzberg. “Real opportunity exists for organizations to step up and create the conditions and commitment needed to encourage and foster innovation in their work environments. And there’s a tremendous upside if we get this right: we can better retain talent, remain more competitive into the future, and more positively impact society.”

The report provides a nice infographic here: http://tinyurl.com/autexyn

So what really catches my eye?

The one chart that stands out for me is the one that outlines the required provisions of innovation conditions and the present delivery “gap” in creating these to foster innovation.

Taking this as the make-up of many of the essential conditions it is worth listing them here

  1. Encourage & reward idea generation and creativity
  2. Provide employees with “free” time that can be dedicated to learning
  3. That leadership encourages idea sharing regardless of seniority
  4. To promote openness and the freedom to challenge
  5. Provide a commitment to successfully advance innovation ideas
  6. Provide strong and inspirational (innovation) leadership
  7. Have a clear vision of the future
  8. Have a (better) understanding of the Millennial generation
  9. Improve or expand use of internal social and informal learning (methods)
  10. Encourage both formal and informal learning
  11. Have a (real) commitment to a sustainable business
  12. Provide (the conditions) and commitment to continued development
  13. Provide (consistent) improvement to internal processes
  14. Commitment to (consistent) and continual product and service improvements
  15. The (vexing issue) of a lack of hierarchy

The ones highlighted in bold gained the highest responding as needed but this is a fairly valuable list to work from in fostering the ‘right’ innovation conditions.

The Millennials felt the purpose of business was to improve society, generate profit and to drive innovation. They overwhelmingly believe innovation is essential for business growth. They feel it is acceptable for business to profit from social innovation and those organisations that are (clearly) seen to be innovative will attract the talent

According to DTTL the findings endorse the importance of leadership and innovation and the impact business can have on society. This creates opportunities for business leaders – both individually and collectively – and for the long-term success of their businesses.

My initial thoughts triggered from this survey

Today’s leaders need to think very differently about their role and the expectations of business, if we are to capitalize on the opportunities that innovation can provide, simply by allowing these opportunities to be shaped more by the Millennial generation, sitting inside or collaborating outside their organizations.

For me, this survey simply  strengthens my view that today’s leaders just don’t get innovation in the multiple ways they should: to enhance their business and to regain growth. The generations coming up into leadership positions are not just aware of innovation’s importance but are being exposed and trained in all the different facets but frustrated those above “simply don’t get it”.

The issue is “can we really wait?” I don’t believe so.