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Innovation Organization

The Schulich Executive Education Centre sponsored a research project on organizational and process innovation. In small group roundtable discussions groups of executives and professionals from diverse sectors explored the situations in which organizational innovation is needed, the challenges it must overcome and the principles and practices that lead to success. Rick Wolfe of PostStone was the co-director of this research along with Alan Kay of the Glasgow Group. Susan Abbott of Abbott Research and Consulting wrote the reports of the findings.

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Leading Innovation: Change and Sustainability

Innovation initiatives need to be linked to potential return on investment. If they aren’t, an organization can travel a long way down the innovation path before finding that customers don’t want the innovation or it can’t be commercialized. “We’ve just come out of an era where a lot of innovation came from IT. IT was driving innovation as opposed to industry driving innovation. It’s created a lot of challenges [and] now we are coming back to business in the basics [and] not doing things because systems says that’s the way to do it.”


Innovation in Marketing: Customer Insight at the Core

Marketers see deep customer insight as a core process that can drive innovation in an organization. Translating this insight into innovation also requires having organizational alignment on goals, and an organization that supports effective cross-functional work. "One alignment you don’t see very often is alignment between sales and marketing and HR. We in sales and marketing have a view of our customers and potential customers. How are you going to take that view deep into the organization?


Managing Innovation: Leveraging the CFO Function

The role of the CFO has been evolving for some time, and they are now seen – and see themselves – as business partner to the CEO, with a unique perspective and mandate to see across organization silos. For CFOs in public companies, responding to expanded governance and regulation mandates has pulled them away from strategic work. “The CFO role is largely an untapped resource in terms of moving innovation forward.”


Leading Innovation: Get Comfortable Failing

Risk management is a key leverage point that innovative organizations learn to manage effectively. Organizations need to consciously create conditions conducive to innovation, which means communicating clearly where innovation is desired, developing systems for capturing and developing ideas from all levels, making innovation part of normal accountabilities, and managing the career risks for individuals. Failure needs to be redefined as learning, and celebrated as a necessary precondition for success.“We still have to look at profitability. Innovation may take away billable hours. Are we prepared to make the risk?


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