Develop an innovation strategy
Successful innovation requires organisational support. It requires management structures that support innovation, and resourcing that allows people the time and space to pursue their ideas.
An organisation that aspires to be innovative in its approach should have an innovation strategy.
An innovation strategy should outline why your organisation innovates, what areas of innovation your organisation will focus on, and how your organisation will put this into action. A good innovation strategy should provide the following things:
- Context: it should indicate how innovation activities support your wider strategy.
- Direction: it should explain where people can go with their ideas and how they can get support from the beginning.
- Process: it should include a staged innovation process with an explanation of how ideas can be progressed and how decisions will be made.
- Provisions: it should outline the availability of both financial and time resources and how these will be allocated.
If your organisation is managing multiple innovations, you should take the time to build a framework for innovation management. Here are some key questions to ask:
- What is our balance of risk across our innovation projects? Are we investing enough in high-risk, high-potential, and high-impact innovations, or are we only investing in low-risk, incremental-improvement innovations?
- How do our innovation projects look across time? Do we have enough ‘quick-win’ projects vs medium- and long-term ‘bets’?
- Do we have sufficient resources (or potential access to resources) to manage these innovations?
- What ‘failure’ rate are we expecting for innovations at each stage of our innovation process? (hint: failure rates should be high at the start and decreasing as the innovations move through the process).
Tip: Innovation requires flexibility and quick decision-making. If you’re setting up a ‘stage gate’ process, where project progression is reviewed at regular intervals, agree a strict framework for making decisions (for example, setting limits on the number of rounds of questions).