Is your organization innovative enough to move forward?

Innovation - Consulting | Article

In 1958 the average life expectancy of companies was 61 years. Today it is 18 years and declining. McKinsey projects that, in 2027, 75% of the companies quoted on the S&P 500 10 years ago will have disappeared. They will be bought- out, merged, or will go bankrupt. Different reasons can be attributed to the fault of declining business lifespan: the size of companies that leads to more complexity and thus more vulnerability, its process inefficiency, lack of agility and flexibility, or poor innovation efforts to cope with everyday changes. This article will address the innovation factor and its aspects that may be overlooked in today’s attempts to stay afloat in the business context.

The most successful organizations use collaborative innovation. Companies that score top on the "McKinsey Design Index" beat industry benchmarking on growth by as much as two to one! However, it is already known that 10% of individuals deliver 90% of the innovation in organizations, meaning that most companies have certain individuals who get things done. These are the organization’s “heroes” and it’s them for whom companies always look to maximize their knowledge and capabilities across the organization. But is this enough? Do companies’ heroes really have everything it takes to create sustainable innovative solutions?

Unfortunately, in our experience, we still encounter that people in charge of innovation are not prepared or well suited for leading innovation processes.

When Business Learning consults companies, some of the provoking questions we dare to always ask are:

  • Do your employees use brainstorming?The answer is always a clear “Yes”.
  • What are the rules when doing brainstorms?The answer is more hesitant and revolves around: "We do not tear others’ ideas down".
  • How do you prepare for your brainstorms?The answer is most often: "Brainstorming is something we just do!".

For us, these answers are just as ineffective as holding meetings without an agenda and a follow-up without the next steps. Brainstorming cannot be taken for granted. It is one of - if not the most - fundamental pillars in the innovation process, and leaders’ and employees’ light attitude to it is a huge mistake.

Design consulting firm IDEO has studied the likelihood of success with innovation: "When teams work on more than five or more different solutions, they have a 50% greater chance of launching successfully." So, a good question companies should ask themselves is “is our organization a genius, or is there a genius hired to take care of the innovation in our business?” In our humble opinion, it is about engaging the entire company in the innovative processes.

Innovation is definitely a factor that can move the organization forward, yet the “who” and “how” is utterly underestimated.

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