Structuring For Innovation Success

Holy Grail carved in stone

Innovation is the Holy Grail for businesses and organizations today. Innovation drives business growth, accelerates the route to market for products and services, and engenders customer acceptance and loyalty. Yet achieving innovation can be challenging. Our Boston innovation consulting firm works with many different organizations to drive innovation. And to do that successfully, we get to know our clients inside and out and adapt ourselves to fit the client needs and how they work internally. Knowing how your company makes decisions will determine how quickly you can move from concept to commerce. Based on these experiences, here are three rules of the road to help guide you on structuring for innovation success:

Give them Data

Risk adverse organizations require strong quantitative analysis before embarking on innovation, so it will be critical to provide substantial, targeted data to underscore the need for innovation. Tools like quantitative analysis, adoption rates, sales projections, behavior models, adoption patterns and business-case studies must be factored into the innovation process. Data will help demonstrate innovation as a calculated and thoughtful risk, and make a strong case for future success, especially if companies use the “stage gate” approach that relies on a set of detailed criteria for each level of execution. A traditional innovation process is a great way to generate ideas, but that must be backed up with hard evidence to convincingly make your case.

Seek Consensus

Some companies have strong internal teams that make innovation decisions, requiring each player to be on board. A series of conversations with individual stakeholders and project leaders, focusing on their particular concerns and motivations, is crucial to winning consensus for moving innovation forward. At one company I worked with, decisions were made by an innovation council after council members reviewed ideas, proposals and employee feedback at an innovation fair. We used the highly influential venue of the fair to explain the project from many viewpoints, so it gained wider appeal and support from all parts of the organization, from marketing to finance and sales. This helped gain consensus and move the project to the next stage.

That Vision Thing

Richard Branson’s Virgin Empire has been wildly successful by identifying and refreshing product and service categories that have grown stale. Branson’s vision is always seeking “better, fresher and more valuable offerings” to customers, be it an airline, a mobile phone company or intergalactic travel. Innovation for vision-driven organizations like Virgin depends on an intimate understanding of the brand’s core values and its emotional resonance. Innovation ideas must align with the company’s winning formula and take it to an even bolder and more powerful level. Decision-makers need to experience that firsthand—through models, demonstrations or walkthroughs—how innovation fits within that formula and vision of success. These companies use their vision as a template for conquering new categories, and innovation must follow that lead.

Winning innovation ideas won’t go anywhere if you don’t understand the organization that will approve, fund, and implement the idea. Take the time to consider how an organization makes decisions, and tailor the innovation approach and plan to fit. Innovation happens when multiple stakeholders see a clear path and embrace the innovation goal, even if they get there in different ways.

Interested in learning more? Take a look at our Structuring Innovation for Success Whitepaper!

Craig McCarthy

Posted By: 

Craig McCarthy

Director, Strategy