Insights | By Howard Tiersky

10 Practices That Lead to Successful Innovation

Not all businesses that are trying to innovate get results. If you’re one of them, then you may want to look at how the most innovative companies do it.

We have studied quite a few of them and identified 10 practices that tend to lead to success.

These are practices that when implemented, there's more innovation. And when they're not practiced, the right ingredients just aren’t there for innovation to naturally grow.

How are you doing in these areas? To get a sense, score yourself on a scale of one to five and then add it up.

(One is a major barrier to innovation. A five is a major enabler of innovation and a three is we're OK—it's neither a one nor a five, but at least we're doing something.)

Here are the 10 areas to look to if you want to know whether you’re setting yourself up for a successful innovation.

1. CULTURAL VALUE

Is innovation seen as important by everyone in the company? It's important that the organization culturally understand that innovation is key to business success.

2. ROLE DEFINITION

Are there specific people who are clearly accountable for driving innovation in sufficient quantity to be effective? It’s not even important whether you call it innovation. The words don't matter.

And of course, it's not all about headcount. But there has to be a sufficient capacity.

3. PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

Are contributions by individuals to innovation measured and rewarded?

When people feel like they're going to be acknowledged and rewarded for their contribution, that it's actually a legitimate part of their job, they're much more likely to generate that type of information.

4. RISK TOLERANCE

The company has a willingness to take the risks necessary to achieve innovation and will accept some degree of failure as part of the innovation process.

In order to be successful in innovation on any predictable, consistent basis, you have to be willing to fail.

5. BUDGET

Some companies, they say, well, we have risk tolerance. But then when you look at the actual budget available, it's not there.

Make sure you're both willing to tolerate the risk as well as put your money where your mouth is.

6. INSIGHT

Where do you come up with ideas for new things that customers might want? Usually from knowledge of what customers need and points of customer pain or dissatisfaction.

How do you figure out what new product you could create to fill that dissatisfaction? Very often it's from knowledge.

Is there adequate information about competitors, customers, market trends, technology? To stimulate innovative thinking, you need a process to make sure that information is available to whoever it is that you want to come up with the ideas.

7. ENVIRONMENT AND TOOLS

The physical environment is conducive to collaboration and equipment, software, and other tools that support innovation are reasonably available or attainable.

Have an environment that stimulates you and makes it very easy for people to get their ideas out there and to collaborate. If you give people tools, that's an enabler. You can do it without those tools, but they make the process easier.

8. PROCESS

At any given moment in time, you have large numbers of new ideas that are being generated.

You need a process to gather those kinds of ideas and then to filter through them. Decide which ones are worth taking to the next step and which ones are worth discussing.

Some ideas are worth spending a few weeks exploring, others are worth spending a few months prototyping, and then there are those that are worth spending six to nine months bringing a pilot to market.

You can have a successful innovation if you lack a process, but it's not mature, reliable or predictable.

9. COLLABORATION

Both politics and defined processes support cross-division department collaboration because in the vast majority of times, innovation isn't just within one area. You almost always have to have many parts of an organization working together.

10. TRAINING

Innovation is a skill. For most people, if you want them in the workplace to start to use a new skill, you have to find a way to teach them that skill. Have people trained in innovation and not thinking of it as some kind of magic process that only geniuses do, but something anybody can do.

How did you fare? If you didn’t get a perfect score of 50, don’t worry. We don't find companies very often that get a five in each of these 10 categories.

But we do find companies that are in the high 30s and low 40s. Sometimes these are companies that are really innovation oriented.

We also find a lot of companies that are down in the teens, which means they're mostly ones and twos. Those are companies where there's a lot of upside opportunity.

Check out my Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance, where I go into great detail about specific methodologies for massively increasing the likelihood of innovation success. You can download the first chapter for free by clicking this link https://WinningDigitalCustomers.com.
Get FREE access to the first chapter of FROM`s
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WINNING DIGITAL CUSTOMERS


  • Learn the three patterns of all successful digital brands (including companies like Apple, Netflix and Uber).
  • Understand why many great new products fail, and the formula for building products that won’t.
  • Discover the key reasons companies resist change and how to overcome them.
Get FREE access to the first chapter of FROM's
Wall Street Journal Best Selling Book

WINNING DIGITAL CUSTOMERS


  • Learn the three patterns of all successful digital brands (including companies like Apple, Netflix and Uber).
  • Understand why many great new products fail, and the formula for building products that won’t.
  • Discover the key reasons companies resist change and how to overcome them.