New report identifies drivers of innovation

Renee Hopkins Callahan, editor of the Corante Innovation Hub, and two of her coworkers have written a very interesting white paper entitled, "What Drives Innovation? A Heuristic Framework for Corporate Innovation." It attempts to identify common innovation drivers that can be linked to the successes and failures of corporate innovation initiatives.

Renee Hopkins Callahan, editor of the Corante Innovation Hub, and two of her coworkers have written a very interesting white paper entitled, “What Drives Innovation?  A Heuristic Framework for Corporate Innovation.” It attempts to identify common innovation drivers that can be linked to the successes and failures of corporate innovation initiatives.

To conduct this research, Callahan, Gwen Smith Ishmael and Leyla Namiranian conducted interviews with executives from across a wide range of industries about recent innovation projects at their organizations. What they discovered was the outcome of these initiatives was not based on specific drivers, but rather that projects were often derailed because of oversights at the front end of the projects, including issues such as:

  • Not asking the proper questions early in the process
  • Not addressing key cultural and organizational issues before beginning the project
  • Not addressing key decisions that needed to be made, and
  • Discovering key information too late for it to be incorporated into the innovation effort

Out of their analysis, the authors created a series of six questions that, if asked, should help increase the odds of success for innovation initiatives – or at least help to surface the issues and questions that need to be addressed before proceeding with an innovation project.  Each question is written at a high level, and should serve as a jumping off point for more specific questions within each area.  These questions are:

  1. Does it fit the organization?
  2. Does it provide strategic advantage?
  3. Is there demand for it?
  4. How might we pursue it?
  5. Is there a clear definition of success?
  6. Will management support it?

If the answer is “maybe” or “no” to any of these questions, then the innovation team ought to dig deeper, asking more detailed questions to determine what the potential barriers to the project may be, and how to overcome them – or kill the project before the team has expended substantial time and energy on it.

“This is not intended to be a complex diagnostic framework… it is intended to act as a heuristic – to stimulate quick, critical thinking that can help steer an innovation effort,” the authors explain. “It is designed to act as a high-level roadmap for how innovation might be approached successfully, flagging areas that could require additional attention or effort in order for the innovation effort to be successful. The purpose is… to gain a better picture of the conditions in which the innovation effort will be developed, so that either the conditions or the innovation effort itself can be to eight to ensure success.”

This is a very interesting report, and I highly recommend that you read it!  You can download it by clicking here.

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