Best Practices for Successful Innovation Implementation
Frost & Sullivan hosted a virtual discussion on the ‘Best Practices for Successful Innovation Implementation”. Panelists included Susan Lucas-Conwell of CSIRO US and Mohan Nair of Cambia Health, moderated by Richard Sear of Frost & Sullivan.
Of the many takeaways, the discussion repeatedly stressed the importance of the entire organization embracing the right mindset toward innovation. Without the CEO and C-Suite championing innovation and ‘walking the talk’ success will be elusive. Building the right internal mindset requires defining what success will look like and the KPIs used to measure progress.
Lucas-Conwell stressed that in most companies, innovation groups are often cost centers. Staying aligned to corporate strategy and the long term focus of the organization is critical. Nair stressed that the internal customer is often more important than external customers. Both panelists repeatedly emphasized the importance of culture as an enabler of success.
Not-invented-here (NIH) syndrome is a real barrier to success. Not just the CEO needs to buy-in to the innovation initiative; internal groups ranging from R&D, Engineering, and product development also need to buy-in.
The discussion turned to tools used to manage innovation efforts. CRM systems do not meet the needs and processes of innovation processes. CSIRO US uses StartGrid to manage contacts, connections, and sources of ideas. Nair shared that tools often come with their own processes, and both should be evaluated for fit. His organization uses idea management software, OKRs / balanced scorecards, SLACK, and video conferencing. While tools and frameworks are essential, they are just that – tools. The soft skills, internal relationships, and communications are the most important.
A question from the audience was on how to build innovation as a core DNA of an organization. The ensuing discussion revealed the absence of any silver bullet. Innovation inherent introduces change, transformation, and disruption to the status quo. Communications, trust-building, transparency, and making sure the innovation team has champions to support them in good and bad times are success factors that should be emphasized.
Lucas-Conwell stressed not to focus on ‘counting pennies.’ Adopting an overly managed operating focus takes one’s eye off the external landscape where small startups will rise to disrupt the market. Always look inside as well as outside.