Four Simple Steps For Defining Your Company’s Innovation Vision
<img class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-817″ src=”http://www.trendbusinessideas.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/innovation.jpeg” alt=”innovation” width=”136″ height=”136″ />Organizations spend a staggering amount of time, energy, and money on innovation programs that lack vision or strategy. Announcing a quota for innovation initiatives without communicating why or how it will be achieved is a recipe for failure. In the absence of a galvanizing vision, teams spin their wheels in conflicting directions and lose momentum quickly.
Innovation goals become reality only when leaders develop a clear vision, formalize their strategy, and communicate it across the organization.
To create an InnoVision Statement for your own organization, follow our four simple steps below.
1. Define Your Challenges. An open-minded and candid approach is essential to getting to the root of your innovation roadblocks. Gather a group of senior managers who possess a holistic perspective of the organization and ask them to honestly identify the core issues that are preventing the organization from becoming a leading innovator. You can tease out a list of challenges by posing the following thought-starters to the group:
Which companies do we admire as innovators? What adjectives best describe them? What makes them different from/better than us?
Do we need to be more nimble when bringing innovations to market? Why?
Has innovation traditionally been relegated to single departments? Do we need to increase involvement across our organization?
Have we lost sight of our customers? Do we need to listen more, and focus on their blatant and latent needs?
What is our biggest threat? What’s holding us back?
Do we have the right people to address these issues or do we need to hire for these skill-sets?
2. Define Your Opportunities. Ask participants to offer and discuss ideas for solving each of your company’s challenges, and list these ideas as opportunities. Avoid analyzing the feasibility of solutions; just imagine the exact scenario that would render the challenge a complete non-issue. For example, if one of your challenges is “our tech capabilities lag behind competitors,” your Opportunities might include “partner with Tech Company X,” “hire developers with X capability” or “increase IT investment.”
3. Define Your Direction. Among your list of opportunities, which three or four are most crucial to resolving your innovation challenges and achieving your goals? Encourage a healthy debate about the most impactful directions needed for innovation, and once there’s consensus, summarize the selected opportunities into several sentences. These represent your direction and should lay out your company’s innovation goals and how they will be achieved. As you distill your own opportunities into specific directions (the how of your strategy), consider this example from DARPA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense:
Embrace risk and failure. Allow room for experimentation and failure to get to game-changing innovations.
Encourage cross-collaboration. Encourage employees to work across disciplines and to exchange ideas freely and cooperatively.
Keep nimble. Keep teams small for agility and flexibility.
Create breakthrough innovations of the future. Think big and take chances for revolutionary breakthrough innovations.
And this example from pharmaceutical company Novartis :
Focus on the customer. Collaborate with patients closely throughout the drug-development process.
Be extremely efficient. Streamline the way drugs are developed and focus resources in the best way possible.
Get the best minds on board. Get access to the most cutting-edge scientific thinking and research—from both inside and outside the organization.
4. Define Your InnoVision. The final step to crafting your InnoVision is articulating a single sentence that captures what innovation will do for your company. The ideal statement is free of jargon, and easily understood by anyone in your organization. It sounds lofty, grand, and ambitious—but not unrealistic.
Through this exercise, Novartis defined its vision as: “We want to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to prevent and cure diseases, to ease suffering, and to enhance the quality of life.” DARPA’s sums up its statement as: “To embrace the most wide-eyed visions of the future and manifest them in the here and now.”
To help visualize your own statement, explore answers to the following list of thought-starters:
What kind of a company will we become 10 years from now if we follow the direction we’ve outlined?
If we were featured on a magazine cover and profiled as the most admired company in the world, what would the headline say?
In an ideal world, what kind of a company would we be?
What must our company become in order to still be relevant 10-15 years from now?
Your InnoVision Statement should signal a new and crystal-clear approach to innovation. It should energize and inspire employees, and gives them a sense of purpose. It needs to be authentic and should become the centerpiece for your innovation efforts.
Once you’ve finalized the statement, create a plan for communicating it internally and externally. Identify key employees who are respected and known for embracing change and designate them as InnoVision ambassadors. To get buy-in from all employees, develop a formally phased plan using your intranet, newsletters, and annual meetings. Position the InnoVision Statement as the public face of your innovation program, and roll outan external PR and social-media effort. Remind senior leaders to use the statement as a cheat sheet when discussing innovation with the press—and with their own teams.
Far more than an aspirational exercise, the InnoVision Statement is a clear approach to the often daunting task of setting innovation vision and strategy. It is extremely helpful for uniting senior leadership and employees under a single innovation purpose. It identifies your most critical challenges and outlines your roadmap to solving each one. It signals a clear break from the past and has the power to launch your company into the future as an innovation leader.