Innovation Drives your business. Now what?

Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

Part 1: Why outsourcing innovation is not sustainable

The term innovation is used so often today that it seems to have lost its meaning.

Some consider innovation a process which generates value from new solutions. Others say that successful innovation is achieved only when a product or service changes consumer behavior. However, the conversation we find the most interesting is not about innovation for its own sake, but about innovative organizations and their ability to
“depart quickly from their planned trajectory and jump onto a new opportunity; they’re organizations that recognize and take an active role in introducing new behaviors that were unknown.” Thomas Koulopoulos — Innovation Isn’t About New Products, It’s About Changing Behavior, Fast Company.

Outsourcing innovation

Looking beyond definitions, the need to continuously innovate has never been more prevalent and urgent than today. We know startups are disrupting virtually every industry. Over the last five years, digital and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are accelerating the pace of innovation like never before. Executive leaders are expected to respond with force. However, they are struggling to do so.

A recent McKinsey study concludes that 84% of executives interviewed believe that innovation is essential to their growth strategy, and 80% see their business at risk for lack of innovation.However, only 6% understand what the barriers are to their innovation process and how to improve it.

In response, we’ve seen more and more Fortune 500 companies outsourcing their innovation activities to external experts. Some look to collaborate with startups by acquiring them or creating joint ventures. Others have tried to access innovation by creating incubators, accelerators, or startup studios. More often than not, these approaches have produced mixed results and difficulty integrating and scaling new products or services into their existing business models.

An added challenge is when managers don’t feel a part of the innovation-creation process and are simply asked to deploy ideas, they push back and revert to focusing on their existing products and services.

Sustainable innovation lies with your people.

At Kinestry, we believe the most successful organizations are ones who can navigate the unknown in pursuit of new opportunities by unlocking their people’s potential for innovation. Your teams are a rich, untapped wealth of knowledge, expertise, and potentially, new IP. They also live and breathe the organization’s culture every day so they can develop solutions that are deeply connected with your company’s values. Moreover, successful engagement and adoption of new ideas need to happen among peers, not just from the top down. Therefore, for innovation to succeed, it has to start with the people inside.

Creating an innovative and agile organization is not a one-time initiative. It needs leaders capable of unlocking people’s potential to continually adapt to a changing environment and respond to it with new ways of thinking. It also requires leaders capable of orchestrating the right synergies and collaborations between people for these ideas to come to life and succeed in the market.

So, how do you activate your people’s potential for innovation? By unleashing their creativity, developing human-centered mindsets to solve problems from a place of empathy, and educating them with a basic business-level understanding of emerging technologies.

In our next post, we will delve deeper into Part 2: How to unleash creativity in your organization.

Eric Holdener
CEO at www.kinestry.io

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