By Henra Mayer

Yes, it’s like motherhood and apple pie. New value cannot be created if it is not getting to market timeously. The SA Innovation League 2016 results, to be released on 8 December at Milpark Business School, makes it abundantly clear that innovation leadership gets the message on the importance of innovation and expects it to drive revenue growth across industries in the short term, but challenges still remain in building the capacity to harness the value of innovation.

Similarly CEO’s have undeniably turned to innovation in order to address the organisational changes necessary to grow in the future, yet they also feel their organisations are really bad at it. The reason we bother with innovation in the first place is to change the status quo. As stated by Robert Brands in an interesting article on the topic “innovation for the sake of innovation” is a misuse of a very powerful and beneficial tool.

The process to market will differ from organisation to organisation but most challenges in this regard are universal. Think lack of resources, not sufficient budget, inappropriate strategic attention and probably the biggest of them all, not enough time available to get to innovation as well.

One place to start in order to get better at implementation is by thinking about strategy, tools and people.

Strategy and Business       

Are you implementing ideas that move your business forward fast enough?

The world is changing quicker than you can say Flash Gordon, we talk about Moore’s Law, the role of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) Big Data, Digitisation, Disruptive Business Modelling and then throw into the mix other specifics like FinTech, the potential of the Blockchain and the collaborative economy, to name but a few. It’s a jungle out there. Managing the ambidextrous organisation and balancing the demands of the business of today with the business of tomorrow is a skill. Strategic thinking needs to be elevated to the next level, aligned and resourced to focus on driving innovation results. Full stop. This is a leadership responsibility and in order to benefit fully from the evolving central role of innovation, management must become more responsible for innovation output, and put in place tactical strategies to give it legs. If strategic intent for innovation is not visible, it will go nowhere and innovation results will continue to be just as undetectable.

Process and Technology

Tools can help you get to implementation faster

Technology and the power it represents opens a new world of potential all around. It is often difficult to navigate this ever changing landscape but it is necessary to do so with an open mind. Today’s leaders have a myriad of options. Decision-making must consider fit-for-purpose tools in support of strategic objectives, the streamlining of processes and ever changing requirements that requires flexibility. The focus is on enablement by means of strengthening organisational technological capability and driving results. Technology enables efficient processes and for innovation to flourish a finely tuned, transparent innovation process is necessary. Consider idea flow, internal as well as external participation, engagement, gamification, teams and collaboration, to name a few.

However, processes and tools are also not confined to the technological space alone, know what needs to be done and provide the necessary enabling mechanisms in support thereof.

People and Collaboration

The competitive advantage is effective teams that bring projects to market.

Ideas are just that. Innovation success will depend on your ability to harness the power of people to bring those ideas to market in a feasible way. Organisations good at innovation knows that it must come from various sources, that it depends on diverse teams, internal as well as external to the organisation. They understand that this will lead to an outcome where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Innovation happens at the periphery, thinking in isolation will not yield the same results.

In a Forbes article Glenn Llopis lists 5 Ways Leaders Enable Innovation In Their Teams. It comes down to the following:

  • Break down old rules and create new ones
  • Trust – It is when you trust yourself and others that real collaboration takes root
  • Strong and regular communication in an open, challenging environment is crucial
  • Take charge and embrace the role of a change agent in support of constructive disruption
  • Find the perfect combination of people and form a team. Understand that you often need to course correct along the way.

Although the world of business constantly talk about innovation and disruption – the challenge with doing this successfully is often not linked to a shortage of ideas. It is about getting the good ideas to market. A well put together, diverse and competent team can close that gap.

What are your thoughts and own learnings on the topic?

If you need help with implementation or innovation projects – click here.

The SA Innovation League report, published by Innocentrix will be released on 8 December. It will unpack innovation management practises in South Africa. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to get notified of its release.