Check yourself. Are you really prepared to launch into a new innovation initiative?
Producing a culture of innovation is like running a marathon of sprints. Set the right pace to match your fitness, or you’ll burn out early.
Ask yourself, where is our organization on the innovation maturity curve? How ready are we to innovate, at what pace, and at what level of risk?
Start with this short list of leading questions:
- Has our top management set a clear growth goal defined in quantifiable terms (growth rate, gross revenues, new customers) to be delivered in a specific or staged timeframe?
- Have we identified our initial market focus?
- Do we have a clear strategy to win net new revenues at accretive margins? Does this really represent new revenues, that wouldn’t happen without this innovation initiative?
- Have we assembled a coherent, collaborative, cross-functional, and customer/user-centered team?
- Are they equipped to define, discover, design and deploy those new solutions? Do they have the right people and the specialist skills required to conduct all four phases effectively?
- Can we all follow a simple process for innovation? Can we all describe the same process – on the back of a napkin?
- Have we determined and designed a structure that simultaneously allows us to work well as a team within the competing internal challenges of our reporting matrix? Does it extend out into the market (external) and invite customer participation, integrate market partners, and solicit expert input and support?
- Have we audited the company for strengths and weaknesses – including executive sponsors, bottlenecks, impediments and dead ends?
These are just a starter.
For companies who undertake innovation as a strategic capability – innovation as a core competence – a simple checklist won’t cut it.
We use a gauge for a more comprehensive assessment. For that level of fidelity, subjective answers to interview questions prove too ambiguous. Demand empirical evidence – a documented innovation charter, a stated ambition and associated growth agenda supported by a detailed plan, a market informed analysis of trends and leading indicators to focus investments into areas of increasing importance.
You can expect to see this framework in an upcoming post. The message is simply to do the groundwork before you head out into the field.