Sustainable Innovation Flows with the Rhythm

If we think of Innovation as the ability for an organization to do new things, and to do them better, then Ideas are the building blocks for all innovations and the core of any organizational competence for innovation. The ability to find, develop, combine, and build on ideas is central to unlocking the power of innovation across your company.

In order to survive or grow, companies must have sustainable innovation capabilities. These are not single events but ever repeating, one following the next. Robert Brands compares successful implementation of innovation to a wave; something that happens “over and over again, so that a new wave of innovation is always behind the one preceding, ready to crest even as the earlier innovation matures.”

An ongoing and continuous innovation rhythm needs to be established and needs to involve everyone in the idea flows – whether as creators, builders, synthesizers, or implementers. One key is to create appropriate community spaces where the flows of ideas can be integrated with the regular hum of daily work, giving everyone a way to habitually be involved in innovation. Forming communities around business units, technology areas, or customer focused topics, for example, provides environments where members can easily interact and get quick answers to questions, or collaborate to solve problems. This “low risk” environment gets more people regularly involved in the innovation rhythm and can gradually expand so that expertise and ideas can be leveraged across the organization.

Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, understands the importance of having innovation as a “theme” across their company as Marillyn Hewson- CEO, Chairman, and President- refers to it. As a global leader in aerospace, security, and advanced technology, “the need to stay on the cutting edge of technology in its key markets informs every facet of company activity, from where it invests to how it recruits to how it measures merit.” Innovation is needed and consistently present at all levels to ensure that the company is finding ways to stay ahead of its markets and remain successful. Lockheed Martin’s stock price doubling in the past 20 months under Hewson is a clear indicator that “clearly executed strategy” based on innovation is a working success.

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