Making Innovation Seem Easy is Hard Work - Page 2

Ann All
Myth No. 4 involves how to structure rewards for innovation. The authors say financial rewards may not be the most appropriate for innovative ideas. The process of innovating "is its own reward," so smart companies emphasize the social and personal drivers of discretionary effort, rather than the material drivers." I when I interviewed folks involved with online communities at Microsoft and Dell.

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:

  • Creating a dedicated innovation team.
  • Keeping the innovation team part of the overall organization, because it has to leverage some of the assets and capabilities of what he calls "the performance engine" or driver of operational efficiency.
  • Not using the same measures of success as those used for the performance engine, typically short-term financial results.

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.



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Jan 24, 2011 2:20 AM Patsy Rivera Patsy Rivera  says:

There are so many new innovations going on around us today. Video on a website is transforming the way we do business. Do you agree? These are what one website Beema considers benefits http://www.beema.com/benefits.aspx. As a business student, tell me what you think of this technology and using it for business.

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