In 2015, consulting firm Accenture released the results of their 2015 US Innovation Survey: Clear Vision, Cloudy Execution. The study revealed a couple of major findings with regards to how companies think about business innovation and how successful they are when it comes to being innovative:
- 96 percent of executives said that the long-term success of their organization depended on the development of new ideas
- 82 percent of those same executives didn’t make a meaningful distinction between significant innovation and achieving incremental performance gains.
An organization’s success depends on the ability to innovate, but you have no way of making a distinction between whether your company is being innovative or just ‘doing better’, there is a problem. And the problem stems from the fact that most companies do not have a formalized innovation process in place that allows them to work towards success.
Here’s a final fact from the Accenture study you need to know:
- 72 percent of companies allow innovations to languish because there is no formalized process or organizational home for such initiatives
Building an Innovation Process: The 5 Stages
Finding success by innovating poses a number of challenges. The hard reality is that most companies who find success do so simply by chance: serendipity.
To change that, companies need to adjust their mindset about innovation, start taking the right approach and find the necessary resources to enjoy the strategic benefits of growth. They would then be what researchers in the Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice study call robust companies. These are companies that “have found a recipe for sustainable innovation programs rather than mere spurts of innovation.”
The study defines five specific stages most common to this sustained, successful innovation:
- Idea Generalization and Mobilization
- Advocacy and Screening
- Diffusion and Implementation
Creating an effective process that includes these five stages can greatly help businesses find success through innovation. But, like all business processes, if the process has a weak spot or a company lacks the discipline to follow the system, you are once again relying on chance for success. Managers are the one line of defense that companies have to ensure that processes don’t break down.
A great manager, one with the proper education on not only core business concepts like project management and organization dynamics but also how to build a culture of innovation, is vital to an organization’s success. Many universities offer online MBA programs that help today’s managers sharpen their skills in these specific areas. Because as outlined in the Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice study, to effectively assist with the innovation process, managers need to:
- pay constant attention to operational details of innovation projects.
- be clear about how ideas are selected and evaluated
- respond to external constituents and provide their opinions for experimentation
- pay attention to customer desires and perceptions
If you want to find greater success through innovation, start building your process today and ensure that you have a talented manager who understands exactly what is needed to find success at the helm. This will help ensure you find greater success more often, and not just by chance.