Myth No. 5 is bottom-up innovation is best. While some innovations begin as below-the-radar initiatives or as proposals that were rejected by top executives several times, say the authors, at some point they were adopted and prioritized by top management. "Successful innovations, in other words, need both bottom-up and top-down effort," they explain. A good tip they offer here: Companies should acknowledge contributions and describe how ideas are selected for implementation to keep the good ideas coming. They note Whirlpool has created an Innovation E-Space that allows all employees to keep informed about innovation activities and to volunteer to work one another's projects.
A strategy+business interview with management professor Vijay Govindarajan, co-author of the book "The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge," also emphasizes the hard work involved in bringing innovative ideas to profitable fruition. He discusses the fundamental difference between operational efficiency, which emphasizes repeatable and predictable processes, and innovation, which is far less predictable. He says companies can meet the challenge of being good at both by:
Because of the effort involved, companies must be selective about their innovation initiatives, Govindarajan says:
... Every time you start a new innovation initiative - which the performance engine cannot do because of its limits of reach - you are essentially creating a startup company. This is a major organizational undertaking. Nobody has the bandwidth to start hundreds of innovation initiatives. Each company will have to assess the dynamics of its industry and decide how many innovation initiatives it really needs. But this is so difficult that you should only do a few, and do them right.
The good news for CIOs and IT organizations is they may be well positioned to help companies achieve their innovation goals. In a recent Harris Interactive survey of CEOs, 95 percent of respondents said they consider enterprise innovation extremely important to the future growth of their companies, 44 percent of them during the past decade, and 63 percent of them expect the IT department to drive the highest level of innovation over the next two years.