Continuous, scaled and fast innovation is a necessity for any enterprise to stay relevant to their customers and ahead of competition. Enterprises must lead innovation to solve existing problems and create demand in a new and efficient manner or meet the unmet/unarticulated needs.
As enterprises drive innovation, they seldom do an introspection of the challenges that are regularly faced around value, reuse, and scale. This ultimately hinders their acceleration towards growth and transformation which leads to lack of industrialization of innovation.
Below are some of the factors outlined to be taken into consideration to help to address these challenges, and foster the culture of innovation to drive value with an emphasis on scale and reuse:
Figure 1: Factors to Consider for Fostering the Culture of Innovation
- Innovation Link to Business Theme(s) – Innovation needs to be linked to the business priorities of the organization for it to scale beyond the pilot. Every innovation activity needs to be linked under business themes and aligned to the purpose to make it relevant. Purposed-led innovation has high effectiveness, and employees will be aligned to business goals to drive the outcomes.
- Executive Commitment – Leadership needs to lead and navigate innovation, the involvement goes beyond the financial sponsorship, wherein they participate along with teams to showcase the importance of the outcomes the innovation can deliver and the value they see in this. The executive participation goes a long way to encourage teams to actively engage and get a direction which is linked to business priorities and purpose.
- Integrated Innovation – Enterprises are good in setting up innovation teams that drive innovation at various levels within. However, the integration amongst them is the missing link. As a best practice, enterprise should enable an innovation framework that enables tighter integration among teams working on the future of business trends, ideation, PoVs, pilots, and hackathons, and teams that are scaling them into MVPs. This will maximize scale and value generation.
- Instruments of Innovation – Enterprise should facilitate their teams by allowing them use various ways to innovate, and provide them with frameworks and templates that can let them get going from ideation, collaboration and co-creation using ideathons, hackathons, innovation days, forums, PoVs, pilots etc. In addition, focus should be on training them around behavioral aspects of creative thinking and problem solving.
- Ecosystem – In today’s world, it is important to invest in an ecosystem comprising of partners beyond the organization’s boundaries to be successful in the new frontiers. Ecosystem should range from startups, and academic and industry forums. This gives a jumpstart. Problems or future trends should keep consumers at the center and build solutions around this ecosystem.
- Defining the Problem Statement – Carving out the right problem statement is essential for success in innovation. Generally, we are biased to apply the solutions that we tend to dilute the problem definition. Albert Einstein was even more emphatic about the importance of the definition of the problem. He was once asked: “If you have one hour to save the world, how would you spend that hour?” He replied, “I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem, and then five minutes solving it.” Organizations need to enable teams where they are trained and enabled to ensure the right emphasis is put while framing the problem statement.
- Diversity of Thought – Many organizations face issues where innovation is restricted to a limited few. These are the people who you see every time a problem occurs. In the long run, this is detrimental, as participation needs to be encouraged by all. Getting varied groups into the thought process helps to get a better understanding of the problem and look at the solution in a more complete manner.
- Innovation Share and Reuse – We would have used or heard the expression “One should not reinvent the wheel.” This should be made part of the culture, as this ensures that if teams are solving a problem, they look out whether something has already been done, and see if it addresses their problem rather than duplicating a solution. Enterprises should create an environment wherein sharing and reusing innovation is encouraged. This can be achieved through setting an innovation catalog store featuring innovation success caselets, exchange programs, marketing newsletters, TED talks etc.
- Measure Progress – The progress of innovation needs to be measured. Clear-cut measures need to be put in place that impact the behavioral and outcome attributes. This will ensure focus is on the culture and business outcome. For every role in the organization, the expectations from them around innovation should be called out and made a part of their goals.
- Celebrate Innovation – Celebrating innovation is essential. Various programs need to run in the organization at various levels where innovation is celebrated throughout the year. This keeps the team motivated and rewarded to drive innovation. For example, within TCS, we run the TCS Innovista program -- something we learnt from our parent group TATA. The best part of this is the Dare-to-Try category which embodies the idea that innovations can fail, and we can learn from them. To quote Thomas Edison, “I did not fail 1,000 times, I’ve just found 1,000 ways that won’t work” -- welcome ideas and reward the journey.
In conclusion, fostering an innovation culture with the right mix of the factors mentioned above is essential for organizations to lead and navigate into new frontiers to build a great future with an emphasis on value, reuse, and scale.