Companies and government agencies often make the mistake of viewing innovation as a set of unconstrained activities with no discipline. In reality, for innovation to contribute to a company or government agency, it needs to be designed as a process from start to deployment.
When organizations lack a formal innovation pipeline process, project approvals tend to be based on who has the best demo or slides, or who lobbies the hardest. There is no burden on those who proposed a new idea or technology to talk to customers, build minimal viable products, test hypotheses or understand the barriers to deployment. And they count on well-intentioned, smart people sitting in a committee to decide which ideas are worth pursuing.
Instead, what organizations need is a self-regulating, evidence-based innovation pipeline. Instead of having a committee vet ideas, they need a process that operates with speed and urgency, and that helps innovators
When it comes to innovation, businesses have a strong bias for the new. The idea of creating a fresh new product, the prospect of increasing market share with brand new offerings, or the vision of disrupting some slow-moving incumbent with a radical new technology – these have an inherently strong appeal for companies keen for growth. What’s more, legacy products seem to be at a natural disadvantage. Company leaders and product managers worry that these core products have been around for years and may not be able to deliver much more. How will they perform well enough for us to meet our targets?
Should you heed the siren call to reach outside your core business? Should you explore new technologies that will disrupt current products? Should you search for new “blue ocean” markets that will let you redeploy those products in exciting new ways?
My advice is to
More and more companies are realizing they must reinvent their cultures by infusing innovation into their DNA. Unlike startups that get to shape culture from scratch, established companies must transform existing norms, values, and assumptions in ways that inspire everyone to innovate — not just at the top of the organization, but at all levels.
One company that’s making headway on that goal is CSAA Insurance Group (CSAA IG), one of the insurance companies affiliated with the 55 million-member American Automobile Association (AAA). With almost 4,000 employees, CSAA IG has embarked on a systemic approach to create a pervasive culture of innovation. The tactics being used by CSAA IG are all ones that leaders in other companies can apply to their own innovation culture change efforts.
Early on, CSAA IG’s executive team recognized that to create a culture of innovation, the organization needed to do more than embrace individual innovation projects.