When people talk, or write, about innovation there is often a missing link. Whichever method or process you follow the difference between success and failure can be something as obvious as where innovation sits in your organisation. Over the past few years innovation has begun to find a place in the list of horizontal functions. It is no longer a preserve of product development. How close is it though to be being embedded in the psyche as well as the corner office?
HEC conducted a web-based survey to find out. The survey was conducted with 39 innovation managers from 24 pioneering companies including Shell International, Ernst and Young, Sony and Renault.
The list looks decidedly European but the results set an important benchmark for future US and Asian studies.
HEC make the point that innovation used to be a process managed by a few people but is now on its way to being a transverse function. What are the strategic objectives of this new function? By and large to engineer growth and to provide differentiation. Innovation as a discipline is also supposed to break down silos but as HEC point out silos come in three groups:
Simultaneously breaking down communications barriers across these groups is an ambitious target, especially given resistance by middle managers. Yet HEC discovered that innovation functions have enjoyed slightly increased budgets through the recession and expect significant increases in 2011 as they prepare their organisations for renewed growth.
Another trends is the internalisation of spending, away from consultants towards the innovation office. As yet most innovation managers are relatively new to their posts and are still working on developing their methods. A third of innovation managers hold their post alongside another role which tends to give them direct access to executive management but that still leaves two thirds without such direct access. Top level support remains a challenge.
The value of this report: By making the functions of innovation more explicit it should be easier to address them, and to develop innovation management practice.
The executive summary and full report can be downloaded from the HEC wbesite.
By Haydn Shaughnessy