Paul Williams, in his Think For a Change blog, talks about the need for leaders to start setting their 2009 goals for building the internal innovation culture. This advice is spot on. If you don’t have specific targets to shoot for, you won’t deliver any tangible results. However, there is one other sort of goal setting that is important to successfully establish a sustainable, high performance innovation program. That is specific innovation business goals.
This is an often neglected aspect of driving innovation, and one that is frequently neglected intentionally. This intention doesn’t come from malicious or nefarious scheming, but from the misperception that innovation cannot be effected guided. But if I may borrow Jeffrey Phillips’ catch phrase, you can and should innovate on purpose.
On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy demonstrated great leadership by declaring that we endeavor to put a man on the moon. Eight years later, that goal was achieved. While business leaders don’t need to set such lofty goals, they do need to provide the framework for business value creating with business supported innovation objectives.
Is there a new market that you wish to enter?
Is there a product line you need to revitalize?
Are you in a business that you need to reinvent and recast for your future (GM, Ford, and Chrysler)?
Do you need to rethink your business model to create a better path to you customer?
Every business has some key strategic issues that can be addressed through innovation. It is the responsibility of the CEO and executive management to prioritize and articulate those issues in a tangible and compelling way. By doing so, you provide a vision of the predictable future that your innovation workers are able to respond to in way that delivers optimal value creation to the business.