Innovation may be an overused word, a lot of companies pretend to be innovative, but declaring this as a priority will not be enough.
Normally, in order to be an innovative company, you need at least:
- Strategic direction towards innovation;
- Innovation strategy;
- An innovative culture;
- Innovation structure (people, processes, budget, projects portfolio, metrics).
Creating an Innovation culture is a very difficult task, taking a few years to create in case you make it right. Direction towards innovation and support from the top management is a must, and should be continuously emphasized and communicated via several channels to all employees. But is it enough to create an innovative culture? Probably not. Designating a responsible for innovation would help, despite negative feedback from some specialists. The person should posses’ special skills (multi field expertise, good communicator, influencing and negotiation skills, perseverance in overcoming blockages and, not lastly, innovation skills.
Some actions I would use in creating an innovative culture:
- Declaring innovation one of the companies value;
- Drafting an innovation strategy deriving from the general strategy;
- At each beginning of the year the CEO will stand up in front of the people communicating the focus on innovation and restating this direction each trimester; the message will be communicated also via newsletter, intranet etc.
- Hackatons, internal contest with symbolic prizes, innovative person of the month/trimester/year;
- Intranet with idea factory section;
- Creativity training for managers and other people in the company;
- Creation of Innovation teams or innovation centers;
- Innovation objectives in every company member’s BSC.
And most importantly, measuring the innovation progress, via several methodologies offered freely on the internet and taking corrective actions.
As I said it in the beginning, is not an easy path but with enough determination and proper skills and actions the mission can be accomplished and the company and all employees will benefit.
Wish you all success in the Innovation Journey!