Every company must constantly evolve. But experience shows that companies become increasingly sluggish and less innovative the bigger they get. Therefore, the keyword “corporate innovation” has become an important item on the agenda of many management boards, even for larger companies.
To build a culture for corporate innovation you need fast and efficient processes as well as a senior management that supports the transformation itself as well as the conditions around this transformation. That’s why I’ve compiled here some important elements that are important to enable this innovation power also for larger companies.
1. Make room for innovation leaders
In the hectic corporate world, KPI-driven strategic meetings are as much a part of the daily program as detailed roadmaps, monthly update meetings, and even detailed plans for the next 1-3 years. However, these activities also hinder innovation, as one is only more concerned with the “now” and innnovation does not find a place.
Therefore, it is important to identify the innovation leaders in a company and give them the freedom to work in their own way. It is important to give them the freedom to work in their own way, to develop new ideas and to develop new methods for the implementation of new ideas that might not have been thought of before. Because no one knows today what innovations, ways of thinking and new possibilities there will be for products, services or even new markets in a year or more.
2. Reward risks and do not punish failures
True innovation always comes from “trial & error”. Therefore, it is important to actively implement this basic idea in the innovation process and to see even the small failures as well as the big failures positively. Every experiment gives new insights and new information about the future development and also helps to create a product that is better suited for the future market.
Big companies tend not to tolerate mistakes. As mentioned before, experimenting with ideas is an important process that also requires mistakes. Therefore, it is really important to see mistakes as a valuable source of information and to keep this basic idea when it comes to innovation.
3. Internal support and protection of corporate innovation
Innovation requires determined, fearless and also resilient talent that knows how to set up new projects and break new ground. It is also important to provide these special talents with internal support from executive-level sponsors as well as by providing knowledge and resources so that they can really innovate.
The sponsors of these innovation projects are also asked to provide “protection”. It is important that an “island of freedom” is created and that it is made clear that these projects are of great importance for the company. This will also prevent conflicts from arising around the programs.
4. Release resources of the company
Large companies have a great advantage in this respect. They have a large accumulated experience of employees, technologies, brands, as well as relationships and markets, which they can use. This intellectual property is a gold mine for corporate innovation programs that every start-up can only dream of.
Unfortunately, these resources are usually only used by the respective managers and an insular thinking arises where everyone only wants to see their own advantage, whereas something new could possibly harm their own area of responsibility.
Therefore, the support as well as the distribution of resources from the executive management is very important here, too. Innovation leaders must be able to use access to these resources and unnecessary bureaucracy must be avoided, then the necessary resources can also be used profitably for corporate innovation.
5. “Fast to the customers”
Every innovation stands or falls with the customers. Therefore, even with new innovations, it is important to test them with customers and get good feedback for further development.
Unfortunately, it also plays a role here that sales people prefer to meet KPIs than to market new products and thus block their customers. Thus, the executive management is again challenged to set necessary incentives and to emphasize the importance of the project for the organization. This could be with setting new KPIs or also with personal incentives for the sales people.
Recommended links for this:
Corporate innovation is and will remain a big challenge for many companies and it really does require a big change in thinking on the part of management and employees. Especially the executive management is challenged to create the right environment, talents and incentives to foster an active innovation culture.