The most innovative companies don’t simply generate a steady stream of good ideas: they benefit from a “culture of innovation” that solicits, captures, prioritizes, and executes new approaches to virtually every facet of operations, from product creation to process improvements. While there are many different ways to create such a culture, the five points listed below will help guide whatever approach you ultimately take. Therefore, bear in mind that:
1. Efficiency Can Kill Innovation
Operational efficiency is great, but if taken too far, it can stifle the creative culture necessary to foster innovation. In many ways, innovation management turns efficiency on its head, measuring success not only by results, but by input as well — even if much of that input is abandoned or leads to outright failure. (See the next point.)
2. Expect Failure – Lots of It
Just as a venture capital fund might expect 80 percent of its investments to fail, so too innovative companies must accept that most ideas — even those that are pursued to the fullest — will not pan out. But those that succeed will more than compensate for the failures.
3. Discipline Breeds Success
A creative, innovative culture does not equal anarchy. The more disciplined your innovation-management processes become, the greater the likelihood you’ll have results to show for your efforts. Think of innovation as a muscle you strengthen over time.
4. Innovation Is Strategic
Companies categorized as innovation “Superstars” don’t leave innovation to chance. Rather, they focus their innovation efforts around strategic goals and pursue innovation consistently and methodically, rather than in response to some pressing need.
5. Innovation Is About Leadership as Much As It Is About Ideas or Processes
Truly innovative organizations are open, collaborative, and iconoclastic, characteristics that can’t be achieved overnight. Becoming such an organization often requires deep cultural shifts in training, hiring, team dynamics, risk tolerance, and most important of all, senior leadership commitment.
BUILDING THE STRATEGIC CFO
Chapters in the CFO action series presented by Build and GE Capital:
Chapter 1: Own the Big Picture
Chapter 2: Create More Time
Chapter 3: Build a Better Team
Chapter 4: The Great Communicator
Chapter 5: Big Data, Big Results
Chapter 6: Think and Act Sustainably
Chapter 7: The Leading Edge
Chapter 8: Think Global, Whether You Are or Not
Chapter 9: Building a Risk-Intelligent Culture
Chapter 10: How to Win the War for Talent
Chapter 11: Technology & You
Chapter 12: The Art of Strategic Influence
Chapter 13: Building the Customer-Centric Organization
Chapter 14: Talent Management as a Strategic Priority
Chapter 15: Driving a Culture of Innovation