The Buzzword of Business in 2015: Innovation Implementation

The very purpose of innovation is to change things up, to move the processes forward, and to disrupt the status quo. However, “Innovation for the sake of Innovation” is a misuse of a very powerful and beneficial tool. Innovation is more than generating the next big idea – it involves how you implement the ideas that make it out of the gate, and how you build the culture to sustain the creation of those ideas. Thus, Innovation’s ability to modify strategy is critical.

With that said, the implementation of innovation must exist separately and distinctly from your overall corporate strategy. There are generally moments within the history of an organization, when the need for innovation becomes crystal clear. It may be a long draught of revenue growth, a succession of lost bids, a competitor’s new product. Whatever the tipping-point, the first step toward creating a sustained culture of innovation, is to lay the groundwork toward building the organizational capability for innovation. The climate for innovation can only thrive when every aspect of the organization promotes the creativity, engagement, and acceptance of the change that is required.

A good idea is about ten percent. Implementation, hard work, and luck is 90 percent.
- Guy Kawasaki

Generally speaking, implementing innovation has three big parts.

  1. The “Big” Ideas of Implementation
  2. The People Aspects of Implementation
  3. The Process of Implementation

The “big” ideas

Innovation as a term began taking root in the nineteenth century alongside the Industrial Revolution. At the time it was an acronym for invention. While the term has evolved, Innovation is just as much of a competitive necessity now as it was then.

Create your innovation mantra: The best mantra’s inform a company’s everyday decisions and are actionable statements of intent.

“Create one new Innovation a year”
“Be relentless”
“Inspire Innovation”

You get the idea. Build your culture of innovation step-by-step, stone by stone. Build consensus, reinforce ideas, and underscore the need for accountability. Don’t rush it, and follow the rules of innovation.

At the same time, I must call out another barrier to making your innovative culture stick: Innovation assassins. The residual effects of the Great Recession still reverberate down the hallway of today’s public and private sector organizations. When your team feels insecure, whether that insecurity is justified or not, they are more prone to Innovation Assassination. Resistance can take many forms; from open dissent to covert subterfuge, but in any form it is threat to innovation implementation.

The first step to countering innovation assassinations is by acknowledging its existence. Second is to understand why. Lastly, it can be hard to mitigate these would be assassins, but the best approach is by reinforcing a culture that accepts, and even encourages disruption and risk. One of Pixar’s mantras has been to “be wrong as fast as we can”. I like to say, “fail fast and fail cheap”. Google’s phrase is “fail well.” Risk often translates into failure, so make sure failure is seen and experienced as a “Learning Experience”.


The reason innovation implementation can seem a daunting process is largely related to people-related issues. They require patience (and intestinal fortitude) as well as structure to combat.

A key element to implementing innovation is finding, and keeping the right people. In the past, an organization’s culture would shape the individual employees. However, today it is the value system of the individuals that, collectively, define the organization’s style and mores.

The workplace of today is complex. As I have mentioned before, generations of workers are not always defined by age. Technology is changing the way we do things, and it is changing us. It is changing the very DNA of the work environment we have come to know and understand from years of experience. Organizations will have to be nimble in the treatment and care of workers to create a culture of innovation. Organizational structure should be reviewed and modified as appropriate. Think about co-working spaces, new desk layouts and floor plans. In the end it is Imperative to make sure everybody in the organization is engaged and expected to contribute to Innovation.

“Real opportunity exists for organizations to step up and create the conditions and commitment needed to encourage innovation in their work environments…if we get this right, we can better retain talent, remain more competitive into the future, and more positively impact society,” says Deloitte Global CEO Barry Salzberg.

The Process

Ideate, align, repeat.

When teams collaborate in developing new innovations, having the right mix of ingredients will ensure that its overall marketability will happen relatively quickly and will enhance productivity across the board. According to Soren Kaplan, author, consultant, and educator at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, “The most innovative companies today realize that competitive differentiation comes as much from how they innovate as it does from what they’re innovating.”

Key Ingredients to the process: Generating Ideas, Screening, Testing, Analysis, Beta Tests, Product Development Technicalities, Commercialization, and Post launch Review.

To get results in Innovation, a structured, repeatable process is essential from start to finish. Look to all the imperatives of Robert’s Rules of Innovation – but be sure you know how to create and sustain innovation. Check out the latest installment on sustaining Innovation in 2015: Robert’s Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation, just out!

By Robert F. Brands

About the Author

Robert F. Brands is President and founder of Brands & Company, LLC. Having gained hands-on experience in bringing innovationto market, creating and improving the necessary product development processes and needed culture, he delivered and exceeded to bring “at least one new product per year to market” resulting in double digit profitable growth and shareholder value.

Robert is the founder of Innovation, he is an innovation speaker and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation, a 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival” with Martin Kleinman published March, 2010 by Wiley. The book contains assessment tools, tips, in depth chapters on the importance of Intellectual Property, working with multinational teams and more. For more information on New Product Development Process or any of the other imperatives please visit RobertsRules

Main image: Implementation word cloud from