Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Developing an Innovation Zone

Every business today wants to be innovative. Yet most companies fail to innovate. Having worked as R&D engineer in Silicon Valley - where I started my career and filed for my first patent, and a innovation coach, here is one the key point for building an innovative teams.

Innovative teams need market knowledge to be successful. Having just technical skills is not enough. Here are four key inputs innovative teams need.

1. Customer Insight 

Great innovative companies such as Intel, Hewlett Packard, EMC etc have developed multiple channels to get information about and from customers, and have built extensive knowledge sharing systems to distribute this information widely within the company. This enables teams to understand customer needs and that helps develop new products that delights customers.

Having deeper customer interactions also provides opportunities for customers to participate directly in the innovation process.

2. Global Network

Companies that leverage information from the large business ecosystem are always at an advantage. Organizations that build a global network have greater advantage. When we look at top 10 innovative companies - they have a global foot print with teams operating in all continents and many countries, they integrate these global sites with information sharing channels helping teams all over to innovate.

The global network extends to global partners in the business ecosystem. For example Intel works with Hewlett Packard, Dell, IBM, Lenevo, Microsoft and several hundreds of partners to collect information & knowledge from the ecosystem.

3. Future Foresight

Innovation does not happen without a need from the market. Understanding what customers will need in future. But getting to know what customers will need in future is not easy. Developing a future insight in extremely difficult. This is where global companies have an advantage.  Identifying tomorrow's market needs, opportunities and risks requires working with senior management to assess the strategic and tactical implications of trends, and sharing information throughout the organization. Company leadership then shares this vision of the future with the entire organization. Global teams then work on this insights to develop products for the future.

4. Innovation Organization

There is tremendous innovation potential residing in all employees. Companies that go to great lengths to hire intelligent employees and then they have to empower innovators. Innovative companies provide dedicated R&D budgets, invest in labs, and focuses on innovation.

Company leadership backs up an idea with money, resources and time to develop innovative products.

Closing thoughts

All successful companies have reached the top because of their innovation. There has been no shortcuts in innovation.

Innovation is essential for success, but not all innovative products will be successful. For example, Nokia invested in two different smart phone technologies - Symbian and MeeGo, and yet failed. While history will say Nokia as a leader who failed, history will always remember Nokia as an innovative company.

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