Break Out of the Status Quo
It’s good to dominate the top of an industry, but you understand the inherent risks that come with size. Some of these thoughts may have come to you:
- “Our company is so risk averse, how do I build an entrepreneurial spirit?”
- “How do I address the silos and empire-building that are tearing the company apart?”
- “How can we improve the success rate of our innovation projects?”
- “How can we listen better and learn from our customers, vendors and employees?”
- “How can we quickly find the right skills that already exist within our company?”
Can innovation flourish at large corporations, where so many voices are in the mix? Absolutely, but as a leader in a large corporation, your role in the innovation process must be aligned with that of all the other leaders. Who’s responsible for making that happen? Is innovation the CEO’s responsibility — along with focusing on external issues and relationships? Is it the COO’s responsibility — along with trying to reduce costs and streamline operations?
Large corporations tend to become fragmented, with personal goals often having higher priority than corporate or departmental goals. Can you predict the outcome of asking 10 of your leaders for your corporation’s definition of “innovation”? Would you get 10 different answers? Could they all identify this year’s innovation goals as well as the major milestones required to achieve them? If you’re fortunate enough to have a chief innovation officer in place, or someone trying to play such a role, you’re off to a great start. Innovation Goals still need to be identified, as well as Innovation Barriers that stand in the way. Once identified, Potential Solutions can then be prioritized and implemented to ensure an acceptable return on investment.
At large corporations, innovation goals often reside at the individual, departmental and corporate level. It’s important to make sure the definition of innovation takes all three into account, as well as any differences in geographical location. Since there should already be an established history of innovation within your corporation, there’s a lot of information available internally to help identify what’s working and what isn’t. These “lessons learned” will help prepare realistic goals and expected outcomes for future innovation efforts.
- Do individuals have different innovation goals than their department or the corporation?
- Do departmental goals differ from those of the corporation?
- Are historical lessons learned available to help guide future innovation efforts?
Once you have an accurate definition of innovation, the estimated monetary value of improving it, and a prioritized set of goals and expected outcomes, you’re ready to address what’s standing in the way of achieving them. Don’t forget to consider challenges and innovation barriers that exist at the individual, departmental, and corporate level, as well as those at various geographical locations. As a large corporation, there’s benefit in leveraging prior innovation success and taking advantage of the diverse resources that may be right in front of you.
- Is there agreement on current challenges and innovation barriers across your corporation?
- Have historical challenges been addressed or will they continue to serve as a future barrier to innovation?
- Are the capabilities of your diverse workforce being leveraged appropriately?
The solutions required to meet or exceed innovation goals and expected outcomes will need to be part of an overall corporate innovation strategy and plan. For large corporations, there’s an ongoing need for individuals and departments to maintain a high degree of communication and coordination to avoid overlapping effort and wasting resources. One option is to create an Innovation Program Management Office (IPMO) to help with such coordination. You’re ahead of the game if you already have an established PMO, as the addition of an innovation focus shouldn’t be too much of a leap.
- Do you have an innovation strategy and plan or innovation roadmap of some kind?
- Is each department and individual aware of their roles and responsibilities?
- Are potential solutions being evaluated against established criteria for innovation success?
The table below is presented as an example only — to inspire you. We recommend you create your own, prioritizing Innovation Goals, Innovation Barriers and realistic target dates for Potential Solutions best suited for your business.