In case you missed it, a recent on-line poll conducted by Deloitte
confirms the dismal state of innovation practice in companies. At a
time when companies need to produce more vehicles for value delivery to
climb out the financial doldrums, innovation is a vital force that can
be brought to bear on the challenge. Yet, most companies are not
prepared to meet the challenge. In the Deloitte poll, 31% of the
executives surveyed indicated that innovation happens by accident in
their company, and only 14% said that innovation is clearly defined
within their company.
It is no wonder that many companies are struggling to get their arms
around this innovation thing. Just last week, I visited with several
leading companies, and questions around innovation, establishing
repeatable innovation as a value-driving core competence, and building
a sustainable, high-performance innovation culture were the key topics
these companies wanted help with. Fortunately for these companies,
they recognize that fundamental change is need if they are to emerge
from the quagmire of accident innovation. Yet, many companies aren’t
even aware that there is a problem in the organization and that there
is a path to innovation success.
A couple years ago, an Innovation Practice Maturity Model was described in a post on Innovating To Win.
This model has withstood the scrutiny of practice, so it seems timely
to review the characteristics of each of the four stages of the model.
Ask yourself, “Where does my organization fit in this model, and what
should we be doing to advance our innovation capabilities?”
Stage I: Accidental Innovation
this first stage, the organization has not begun implementing
structured innovation. Companies are generally unaware that there
exist approaches to achieve repeatable, on-demand innovation.
Innovation is poorly, if at all, understood. Because these
organizations do not recognize innovation as a competence that can be
developed and harnessed, there is no infrastructure to support good
innovation disciplines and no sponsorship to promote such practices.
As a result, innovation is not repeatable, predictable or reliable, and
ROI on investment in R&D falls well short of expectations.
Stage II: Situational Innovation
evolve to the second stage when awareness of structured innovation
methods lead the organizations to test these methods. Limited
investments in tools and methods are made to support a specific test
case. A team is assembled to try out the new innovation methods in the
context of a highly visible project. Narrowly focused knowledge asset
mining may also be done in support of the project as well. While these
initial projects are often highly successful, the momentum coming out
of these projects is rarely leveraged because the organization is not
yet committed to the path of innovation excellence. As a result,
innovation skills are often not retained and must be rebuilt with each
new iteration of trying out the concept of structured innovation.
Stage III: Repeatable Innovation
this stage of innovation process maturity, the successes with early
trials have led to genuine enthusiasm for the broader deployment of
innovation best practices. The organization develops innovation
specialists who become leveraged resources within the company and are
assigned to projects on an as-needed basis. Investment in innovation
infrastructure grows as both the innovation specialists are equipped
with the proper tools, and the general knowledge worker population is
given access to innovation tools and knowledge research technologies.
While the company begins to experience the benefits of repeatable
innovation, innovation is still opportunistic, targeting specific
projects, and tends to be contained within pockets of the
Stage IV: High-Performance Innovation
this final phase of innovation practice development, an organization is
committed to establishing innovation a core competency. Formal
corporate programs for innovation best practices are created. These
programs help to integrate innovation as a key part of the corporate
culture and the organizations established product development
processes, providing an operational framework to unify strategy,
communities, knowledge assets, and process. A hierarchy of innovation
practitioners is developed to optimize the availability and
leveragability of innovation skills within the enterprise. Innovation
skills are widely deployed within the entire innovation worker
population, with basic innovation practice training becoming an
integral part of team and individual employee development. In this
stage of innovation practice development, corporations begin to broadly
leverage knowledge assets. Innovation best practices, supported by
precise knowledge retrieval, become integrated into the organizational
Companies that make innovation a core competence are ready to take
advantage of opportunity in good times and in bad times. Do you see
your organization in the four stages of the model? Are you ready to
wield the power of innovation on demand?