How to respond to an increased urgency for innovation

Driving a sense of urgency is certainly supported with today’s business headlines:

  • Netflix disrupts Blockbuster,
  • Failing to capitalize on digital photography drives Kodak out of business,
  • Apple takes over RIM’s market share ...

These stories are pervasive. Smart teams are using this natural urgency as a jumping off point for innovation.

Quickly the question becomes, ”What does that mean for us?” To answer this question, innovation leaders need to take a step back and really understand the case for innovation within their business. Leaders must ask, “What is the ideal innovation culture at this company? How do we make the shift in our mindset?”

As a beginning step, Cotton Incorporated clearly defined innovation and how the company would leverage innovation to activate its strategy. This started Cotton’s innovation team down the path of making the case for innovation.

To prove innovation’s value, leaders have to consider not only the vision but a clear understanding of what’s blocking innovation:

  • Where is there fear of change and how do we overcome it?
  • Where are we structured inappropriately and what impact does that have on our business?
  • Realistically, what does it take to staff successful execution of the innovation vision?
  • How is innovation funded today? What results can we realistically drive with this budget?
  • Are our goals and compensation aligned with innovation? What would it take to make that happen?

These types of questions only get serious answers from leaders of the organization. Once leaders understand what’s necessary for successful innovation, they can then make that case for change by appealing to the hearts and minds of the employees, syncing up with today’s headlines and beginning to drive urgency.

Next in this series: Step 2: Letting leaders lead

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