Innovation Management Blog

The cost of not managing your innovation efforts is too great to be ignored


Innovation has long been a buzz word. Three days after Bill Gates popularised the phrase "innovate or die", way back in 1996, we suspect there were innovation consultancies popping up everywhere. Joking aside, it's only the past few years that the boardroom has enabled employees to work with it the way most are today.

Before that, it was more and new investment in R&D or a closed room of people that were considered the smartest without any real engagement with other employees or even customers. Today, you see ideation workshops, hackathons and crowdsourcing events happening throughout the organisation on a very regular basis and even the suggestion box has made a return (and rightly so if done right).

So with all of these things happening, companies are are now more innovative, right? Sadly, not yet.

Most companies are still not managing innovation efforts the right way and by that I mean, the workshops are seen as a good time to catch up with high priority work and with nothing happening with the ideas from the crowdsourcing events, your numbers are dropping. Your employees are not as engaged as they were the first and second time you did this and you've made it something they have to do rather than something they want to do.

That isn't to say that companies are not innovating, it's that it's highly fragmented and expensive. We're also not suggesting that innovation activities be controlled by one department, on the contrary, we think these events should be happening throughout the organisation and the decision on what becomes an opportunity to something you are building or implementing is there too.

But they should be supported.

89% of the Fortune 500 companies from 1955 are not on the list in 2015 and in the next 10 years 40% of all S&P 500 companies will disappear from this list.

Exponential Organizations

You need a home for innovation

And that home for innovation is needed so all of those ideas from your hackathons, workshops and crowdsourcing, that have historically ended up in the drawer, are there for everyone to see and maybe use themselves or even develop further or merge into what they were thinking.

If you don't do this, you will likely fall into that trap of believing that you only need to ideate when in fact you need to develop, collaborate, evaluate, collect data on your users, customer needs, technology, trends and so much more.

And after three years working this way and collecting all of this information, that is when you'll start to see true innovation value.

Don't get me wrong, you can get there without this home, usually through dogged persistence, but with a team dedicated to supporting innovation, you'll get there quicker and more often. That it costs you a significantly less amount of money should also be seen as a good thing, but in many organisations we're not sure that many really care about that like they used to.

The bottom line

When you start to manage and support innovation centrally, in a way that everyone in the business has visibility and access to the tools, you'll stop duplicating efforts, spending money five or six times on the same thing only to learn the results are the same and be able to scale your activities.

More importantly, your employees will see you're delivering results and they'll be more engaged for future activities, as they'll see something that they can align with. And we all know what you get with more actively engaged employees ... better are more innovative ideas!

You could say that those organisations that are working this way are the ones taking innovation seriously. That they have access to all the ideas and opportunities in one place and with a single click can see what is coming in the next three years and what has been delivered, they're just something for the purists.

Header photo credit: Nathan Anderson

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We help organisations work smarter and more efficiently with innovation. We do this as a partner to Brightidea, the global leader in innovation management software.