The last couple of years have been full of both opportunities and losses.
As a result, the process of innovating has been experiencing rapid innovation in and of itself. It can be hard to keep up.
Last year, I was able to focus on the exciting world of ‘innovating innovation’.
Several new themes have emerged which are starting to become key talking points amongst innovators, leaders, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.
We started a community to encourage shared learning and application of new ways to innovate, especially those ways that encourage innovating across organisational boundaries for maximum societal shift and human impact.
Here are the talking points that are currently top of our list:
How will we make innovation a natural part of our company strategy and culture?
Innovation strategy and innovation culture should no longer be considered separate from organisational strategy and organisational culture.
The most progressive organisations will intertwine the two so naturally that they become one in the same.
There should not be a need to refer to ‘innovation culture’ or ‘innovation strategy.’ It should just be ‘our culture’ or ‘our strategy.’
This does not need to be a complex process.
It starts with a mindset shift from leadership that innovation is something that is embedded, not something that is done on the side.
Organisational goals can be cutting-edge in their own right. Individual KPI’s can incorporate ways and means to empower everyone to become a possible innovator and to work with other innovators.
An organisation with an enabling environment for flexibility, sharing of information and certain conferred decision-making powers does not need to ‘pivot’ in times of crisis, it just adapts to new circumstances.
Modifying something as required or being able to experiment with something new without fear of failure just becomes par for the course.
What structures and process will enable and govern our boundary-spanning innovation?
There will be times when internal teams need to include external team members in innovative processes.
This includes customers, partner organisations, suppliers, external experts, start-ups and employees working cross-functionally.
It is important to have existing structures, policies and processes than enable boundary-spanning behaviour to occur with a variety of stakeholders.
The extent of inviting externals to participate is dependent on each project, so it may help to have structures and rules of engagement for each type of stakeholder and then allow for flexibility as to amount and types of stakeholders included in each unique project.
It is also important to pre-set-up the physical and virtual worlds where boundary- spanning innovation can occur, so that boundary-spanning teams have organisation approved mechanisms for communicating, co-working and sharing of information.
This will ensure enabling environments for co-creation and co-innovation, which are key to remaining current and relevant.
How will we share in intellectual property ownership with others who co-innovate with us?
An increasing number of organisations are willing to co-innovate towards a shared purpose, especially when linked to sustainability or inclusivity types of goals.
The more an organisation chooses to cling to all intellectual property and revenue rights associated with an innovative offering, the less likely it is to attract the best co-innovators as partners.
While right now this is still a contentious issue amongst many traditionally minded organisations, there is a trend towards progressive organisations finding clever ways to share in the ownership of intellectual property and its associated financial rewards.
This is because co-innovators may end up contributing equally important, but different resources. A simple example would be a corporate co-innovating with a start-up. The corporate may get the best product ideas from the start-up founders, but the start-up will get the best access to market from the corporate. A joint initiative with co-ownership of the final product is the best solution. A more complex example could involve multiple stakeholders such as a few partner organisations, a start-up, certain suppliers and some customers working together on one shared output with shared value creation. A model that tracks and records each parties’ value contributions and value captured becomes important. Value captured could include equity or revenues stakes earned for certain deliverables.
What HR processes will we put in place to attract, retain and reward both internal and external innovators?
Human Resources is no longer confined to people on a payroll.
Innovative organisations need HR processes that allow for externals to be remunerated according to the value that they can bring or have brought to a project.
This goes beyond external consultants, as a customer could be considered a ‘Shared Value Cocreator’, as could a partner or supplier.
Managing externals together with internals requires brand new ways of thinking around how people are motivated, attracted and retained when adding their value to an innovative project.
At The Collective Organisation, we have developed ‘The Value Contributor Methods™” which enable a variety of stakeholders to feel like equal co-creators.
Over and above this, many organisations have been employing an individual in a ‘Head of Innovation’ or similar role. It is crucial that this type of role is not side-lined, but rather brought to the forefront of the organisation with Executive level decision making powers.
Are we going to be at the heart of an innovation ecosystem or a key participator in an existing one?
The most innovative organisations have not been afraid to set up innovation hubs that put them at the centre of innovation ecosystems and enable them to drive the strategic direction of these ecosystems.
At the heart of these ecosystems is a shared purpose that attracts other innovators.
Organisational innovation at this level comes with its pros and cons. A pro would be that the initiating organisation will always be a co-owner or majority owner of any products the ecosystem produces and can determine the ecosystem rules of engagement for participants. The con is that the initiating organisation is likely to be expected to set up, run and drive the process, regardless of how many other co-innovators come on board.
The process of innovation is evolving quickly. Those organisations that improve not just what, but how they innovate will become the innovation leaders in the marketplace in 2022. Instead of following the pack with ‘out-of-the-box’ innovation models and techniques, start by asking the most current and relevant questions and then answer them in the context of your own organisation, industry, stakeholders and ecosystems.
Click here to learn and apply boundary spanning approaches to innovation.