Seven mistakes to avoid for effective innovation
What’s the best method for business innovation?
It’s a trick question. There are as many good ways to innovate as there are business challenges that need tackling. But there are wrong ways to innovate.
In our work delivering applied innovation for organizations across the globe, we see teams in all sectors make the same innovation mistakes – leading them to waste time and money, fail to achieve their innovation potential and struggle to deliver business value.
How many are true of your organization?
Mistake #1: Expecting too much, too soon
Innovation can be a slow process with no fixed endpoint. Organizations must understand that their innovation efforts are likely to take months or years to deliver products or services that are ready for market. Many cut their innovation practice short before they can earn a cash return on their investment in innovation – prompted, often, by leadership teams thinking on a quarter-by-quarter basis.
This brings us to our second mistake.
Mistake #2: Not learning from mistakes
Innovation should be seen as an iterative series of experiments, where ‘failed’ projects offer up lessons for future innovation activities. Viewed this way, failed innovation often offers more insight than successful innovation. Effective innovators are therefore ready to fail fast and often. They don’t stop when the innovation process doesn’t deliver a million-dollar idea. They know that they’re on a journey to that idea.
This ‘experimental’ mindset ensures that organizations earn a return on investment from every innovation project, in the form of learned insights. Organizations with this mindset are better prepared to respond to changing customer expectations and industry disruptions at speed, because teams are encouraged to innovate in response to challenges, without fear of their programs being shut down before they have time to deliver actionable value.
Mistake #3: Not building an innovation culture
This innovation-ready mindset must be ingrained in every level of an organization so that stakeholders inside and outside are fully engaged in the innovation process. Innovation teams often fail – or, in the worse cases, are suppressed – because executives in their organization don’t appreciate the value of innovation or how the process works. As a result, innovation is often the first business unit to face cuts when organizations are under financial pressure.
To be effective, innovation must be driven from the top and encouraged at all levels of an organization. Staff should be empowered and given tools to innovate in their everyday work. This has the added benefit of motivating employees, who see themselves as contributing to their organization’s future success.
Engagement is also essential for practical reasons. As my colleague Joleen has written in her recent blog, the quality and delivery of innovative products and services is directly dependent on getting key stakeholders involved at every step of the process. Read more here.
Mistake #4: Aiming for perfection
Often, executive teams prevent teams from innovating because they are concerned about potential brand or business damage.
Many of these concerns are valid. Encouraging employees to experiment with their choice of workplace IT systems can cause security issues, for one. However; once organizations put parameters in place to control these issues – for example, by implementing low-code IT systems that allow employees to innovate safely – then the risk of not innovating becomes greater than allowing teams to go ahead and solve their problems, creatively.
Perfectionism is also risky because it makes innovation unnecessarily slow. Many teams spend months making their innovation products or services feature-rich and pixel-perfect, only to be outwitted by fast-moving competitors focused on getting their innovation products or services into users’ hands quickly to gather valuable feedback, iterate and improve their offer. Spend too long refining your innovation and you might miss your target opportunity altogether.
Mistake #5: Going it alone
This fear-driven thinking is also what makes many organizations put up walls and attempt to innovate alone. Big mistake.
Teams that plug into their wider innovation ecosystem of government institutions, academia, startups, VC companies and technical experts (think: Sogeti) move faster and achieve more, by pooling their expertise and driving mutually-beneficial business outcomes.
The development of Lego’s Mindstorms NXT program is an excellent case study in open innovation. Read about it here.
Mistake #6: Expecting something for nothing
There are no two ways about it: innovation can be expensive. Organizations seeking to build an innovation culture should set aside dedicated funding to do just that.
Many of the world’s most effective innovators – think Apple, Google, Amazon and Tesla – spend millions of dollars each year on experimental products and services that might never reach customers. This is the cost of learning what makes markets tick and how to win. The cost of not innovating can be far higher. Just ask Blockbuster.
Innovation made easy
There are, of course, ways to make innovation more cost-efficient – and faster, more inclusive and more effective.
Sogeti’s Thinkubator is designed to help your organization to overcome the mistakes above and transform your innovation practice for success.
Our experts work with your teams to deliver a market-ready ‘Minimum Loveable Product’ (MLP) in 90 days or less. In doing so, we teach you how to experiment at speed – designing, building, testing and deploying your target innovation in record time. We involve essential stakeholders – including business owners, end users and IT teams – at every stage, to ensure the effective delivery of performant products or services. We provide you with access to our worldwide network of technology experts, who can offer the latest advice on your target technologies and oven-ready code and accelerators, to save your team time and effort. In turn, we save you money, by accelerating your time-to-value.
So, what’s the seventh big innovation mistake you can make?
Not calling Sogeti!
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