All Companies Want to Innovate (As Long As They Don’t Have To Change)

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Not too long ago, disruption was something found solely on the agenda of big enterprises. In recent times, small businesses have begun to exercise innovation as a way to stand out from the crowd. According to the 2015 State of Global Innovation report by Imaginatik, almost every company in every industry has put innovation at the top of their to-do list. However, not all of them can cope with the implications.

The service innovation company conducted the study with the goal of assessing just how disruptive today’s mid- and large-sized organizations have become. The surveyed industries, (with the percentage of companies polled in that field of work) include:

  • Media, Publishing, Entertainment, Real Estate – 1%
  • Transportation and Distribution, Travel, Tourism, Hospitality – 2%
  • Technology (hardware), Non-Profit, Pharma and Biotech, Retail – 3%
  • Energy and Environment, Technology (software), Telecommunications – 4%
  • Government, Healthcare – 5%
  • Education and Ensurance – 6%
  • Business, Professional, Financial Services – 7%
  • Manufacturing (Consumer Goods), Automotive – 8%
  • Consumer Products – 10%
  • Manufacturing (Industrial Goods) – 12%
  • Other – 9%

3 constituents, none to be overlooked

The survey was fielded between May 7th and 28th this year. 200 “qualified” respondents were asked an array of questions about the nature of innovation at their firms, and were allowed to comment extensively on their activity. They found that almost every company in every industry has made innovation a top priority. The research uncovered three key constituents of innovation: mind, body, and results.

Innovation Mind has to do with the purpose that defines a firm’s innovation efforts, whether or not the firm understands the obstacles and challenges involved in building and scaling innovation practices, etc.

Innovation Body refers to drawing on specific skills and processes, the structures that are in place at the company, resources, and implementation.

Inovation Results, as its name implies, is the third and final part of the process acting as the ultimate proof of a company’s capacity to drive innovative outcomes. So, what results do today’s organizations expect from their innovation efforts?

The obvious part is the hardest

According to most respondents, “accelerating or offering more opportunity in existing markets we cater to is a priority.” Asked what were the top benefits innovation had generated for their organization, the interviewees said:

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But it’s easier said than done. It may seem obvious that innovation efforts hold water only for as long as they also yield positive results, but few organizations actually realize this. Leaders often assume that once an idea has been deployed, the rest of the lifecycle will follow naturally, yet this is tipically not the case, according to the research.

The launch channels are often not very clear, and sometimes need to be built from scratch to assist the radical new direction. Ensuring proper execution is crucial, from setting objectives to achieving results and finally optimizing the potential of the disruptive foray. According to the paper, “Innovation flourishes largely as a consequence of appropriate direction, guidance, and constraints.”

47% of respondents agree that new product introduction is the top innovation goal, followed by cost savings / efficiency gains (16%), new markets or business models (14%), improved productivity (4%) and others. But there’s a problem. While innovation is a must, it’s also more of a consensus than an actual culture among companies today.

Although trials have successfully shown the value of innovation, middle management is often afraid of it and therefore doesn’t do much to help implement innovative processes an organizational level. An executive in the telecom industry, whose name was not given in the report, said it best: “Innovation is good, as long as we don’t have to change.”

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