Came across this very nice post today by Jim Marous summarising results from an Accenture study on corporate innovation.

Some of the key outcomes of the study discuss many of the things we all know to be true:

  • management support for innovative ideas is critical;
  • the need to focus on day-to-day functions often gets in the way of devoting time to innovation; and
  • rewarding a person’s contribution to innovation is complex:  if any reward or acknowledgement is linked to the innovation’s ultimate success then this can have the perverse outcome of discouraging some people, due the the fear of failure.

But there are two other lessons in the article I particularly liked.

Innovation Leadership

Key characteristics of an innovation culture are summarised as

  • putting the customer first
  • integrating innovation and corporate strategies
  • embracing collaboration (internally and externally)
  • separating agile innovation processes from BAU process
  • separating agile teams from existing silo structures
  • agility and speed to market
  • intensive use of agile technologies

Be willing to fail

But the main point for me is the need to be willing to fail.  The post references a Harvard Business School study which recognises that 75% of start-ups fail.  As Marous says:

Start-ups embody the core principles of innovation to drive commercial success. They embrace risk-taking and failure, while rewarding success. They are agile and can pivot immediately to meet market demand. Because they are usually small, they can think big. But because they are small, scalability can be a challenge.

The question is, of course, how to incorporate the best of these values while using the strength of the existing business.  This means we need to be willing to fail… and to move on… quickly.

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