The solution is social
Innovation Organization

The Schulich Executive Education Centre is undertaking an on-going research project on organizational and process innovation. In small group roundtable discussions, groups of executives and professionals from diverse sectors are exploring 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 is the co-director of this research along with Alan Kay of the Glasgow Group. Susan Abbott of Abbott Research and Consulting is capturing and reporting the findings.

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?”

Innovation Management: From Talk to Action
“If we look at innovation in terms of patents applied for on a per capita basis, Canada has not left the top 5 in the world for 20 years. Our problem is not with technology, but with commercialization. Canada has talented and entrepreneurial people but they stop being entrepreneurial at age 35 and retire and go to the cottage. That is a fundamental issue. I would guess that 20 – 25% of academic researchers in university are targeted on commercialization. The rest are not yet. Change is coming, but there needs to be more."

Innovation Management: Policy Buzzword or Critical Success Factor?
Innovation is not just a policy buzzword; it is a critical success factor for business today. And making it happen has a lot to do with leaders articulating the needs, the vision and the priorities for their organization. This was the view of a panel of executives brought together for the latest segment of Schulich Executive Education’s Business Pulse Project on Innovation. Organizations can find innovation by combining their strengths with approaches from different industries, other business partners, or unique market conditions. Leaders need to articulate the needs, the vision and a few key priorities for innovations to succeed. “It’s looking at what you do well but looking at it differently, combining with somebody else to create what the customer wants.”

Innovation Management: Creating the Conditions for Success
The home run innovation is less important to business success than continuous innovation that touches all business processes. Too much focus on creating breakthrough product innovations is actually detrimental to building an organization climate where innovation in all its forms can flourish. Innovative organizations create a climate that supports open sharing of ideas as a daily expectation, where there is sufficient transparency, visibility, and support that individuals at all levels are motivated to move the status quo. “Culture is really the issue; getting people engaged in speaking what they know is true to management… We need to focus on the underpinnings of culture, human purpose and interaction.”

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Creating Value by Helping Position Organizations
In the business world, the distinction between innovation, value creation, value extraction and operation execution is blurred. This has led to the acceptance of a number of myths as conventional wisdom.

My Customer, My Co-innovator: CEO Roundtable Forum
Co-innovation takes place in the trenches with customer and supplier working side by side towards a common goal. Ultimately, it is about putting smart people together and removing the barriers to innovation.

Accelerated New Product Development is an essential capability in a fast changing marketplace. New product developments are usually initiated by innovation, customer input or the combination that is sometimes called customer centric innovation.

How to be an Innocent, not an Enron: Innovate With Ethics
If everyone in a company is focused on the profit target that will be the staff’s primary concern. However it often doesn't work like that. The extreme cases like Enron are classic examples of one or more targets driving behaviours in a very negative way, but there are plenty more.