Innovation – from talk to action

“Sorry” might be the hardest word for musical legend Elton John, but for innovators, “action” can be just as elusive. Too many organisations settle for lip service, frustrating executives with an innovation agenda. Others commit to innovation then struggle to translate that into action, observes Tim Kastelle, an innovation management researcher at UQ Business School. With colleague John Steen, Kastelle has developed a simple matrix business leaders can use to work out where their organisation sits and how to progress an innovation agenda. “A lot of people trying to improve innovation within an organisation think that they can go from the bottom left (No Innovation Capability) to the top right (World Class Innovator) in one jump, simply by introducing some sort of innovation program.” Kastelle says.  “This is impossible.” The axes track innovation commitment (inputs) and competence (execution), and firms could find themselves landing anywhere from ‘minimal innovating’ to ‘bewildered’ to ‘potential stars’. “The main point with the matrix is that improving your innovation performance is a journey of many steps, not simply one big leap,” Kastelle says. Moving to execution is a major undertaking, agrees open innovation author, Stefan Lindegaard. “You need to strike the right balance between talk and action,” he says. “Yes, you need to develop a strategy, but once the foundation for this strategy is in place you need to allow for adjustments as you get things done and experiment with different approaches.” Lindegaard advises leaders to get an overview of all issues and challenges around innovation, then prioritise, develop a common innovation language, and communicate frequently and clearly. Educating executives about why you’re doing the things you’re doing is critical, Lindegaard adds. “This is a tough challenge as most executives are not used to listening,” he says, “but you can try by showing them examples of how their peers tackled similar situations. You will also have to educate employees, especially middle managers, who often hinder innovation just by doing their job.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *