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Posted by Kurt Scherer on May 13, 2014
It takes a lot to drive successful innovation. Due to the multiple layers, interdependencies and seemingly chaotic mess of some organizational elements required to be innovative, half the battle is knowing where to focus.
There are many elements to innovation, but two are specifically focused on building the right ideas to drive impact: diversity of idea flow and innovation maturity.
Diversity of idea flow. So much of what people think about when they imagine innovation is the “eureka moment” – that breakthrough idea that will rain confetti down and bring heralding trumpets to revolutionize the company. While this occasionally may happen, in actuality, coming up with ideas is the easy part but it leaves leaders wondering “What’s next?” More challenging is creating the right mix of ideas to drive the proper combinations of innovation and direction to solve your challenge. Leaders must open their innovation process to allow for range, diversity and volume of thought.
In addition to sourcing ideas from inside the organization, working with a combination of partners – corporate partners, entrepreneurs and the crowd – ensures proper idea diversity and achieves a more open innovation process. While the balance and weight of the attention given to these sources will change based on many factors, they all increase the chance leaders will see new, unique and actionable connections that otherwise would not exist in a closed innovation environment.
Innovation Maturity. The right idea set only gets you to the starting line of the “Ideas Making Impact” race. The process of innovation is the race itself. It is a discipline, much like any other organizational process, such as supply chain management. Like any process, the right types of effort and focus will lead to predictable outcomes. If the processes and the underlying drivers are understood, your organization can become more mature in execution. The challenge is unpacking the true dimensions and understanding what levers you need to pull to drive improvement.
Booz Allen recommends six dimensions of innovation maturity to measure, each requiring independent focus and understanding, even though they collectively drive ideas to impact: Individual, Team, Environment, Resource Allocation, Networks and Enterprise. Each dimension takes a different view, has a different set of underlying drivers and requires different solutions to drive maturity.
How are your innovation efforts focused? What does your idea flow diversity look like? What dimensions of innovation are you focused on? Are you applying your limited time and effort against your biggest challenges? Are your efforts aligned with these areas of focus? These two elements are only part of the innovation story, but they are at the core of bringing ideas to impact.