Many organizations see the need to innovate. New parties are entering the market, customer demands are changing, society is changing and new technology offers new opportunities.
Those who don’t take it and change sufficiently along with it will undoubtedly lose the battle for the customer. Innovation is therefore necessary, but in practice this proves to be a difficult task. Why is it like that?
What is first and foremost necessary for innovation is a good vision of the organization, in which the leaders actually manage the implementation of that vision. Having a common, clear goal and facilitating employees to contribute to the way in which they want to go towards the goal. No focus without a goal, which leads to the unnecessary burning of energy. Leadership must ensure that we move in the same direction and that talents are used.
Another important point is that innovation is assigned to a separate department. The department is working on new ideas. As soon as people want to bring it back into the organization, the “not invented here” syndrome rears its head. All sorts of mechanisms come into effect to let the ideas, whether they are good or not, run aground. Recently I was at a large IT organization that had hired an external agency to help them with innovation. “We see them five times a day” I was told. Then you think: people work together intensively. However, those five times turned out to be the number of times people came out of their room to get coffee and then locked themselves in again. The foundations for failure had been laid.
The best innovations come from multidisciplinary teams. Usually, a product development department is involved in the development of new products and services. Experience shows that teams that are composed on the one hand of different disciplines of the organization and on the other hand of different types of personalities lead to the best result. In this way you use knowledge and experience from the entire organization and you use individual talents and motivations in the process.
You see it happen too often: an organization spends a day coming up with new ideas or is shaken awake by someone who tells you that the world around you is even more dynamic than you already thought, the organization energetically in despair leaving what to do next. The challenge is to get started in short sprints with generating ideas, validating them and creating the first concrete piece of the solution, then validating again and so on. The structure to get from idea to start up, scale up and grow up is necessary to speed up and work cost efficiently. Here too, you often see that hail is fired and activities are carried out too early or too late, destroying unnecessary capital and frustrating the team and the organization.
The last pitfall is that innovations are devised from behind a desk and consist of an accumulation of assumptions. It is precisely the early involvement of the customer to test whether the assumptions you have made are correct and whether the customer is willing to pay for a solution are crucial from the start of the process. Doing small experiments yields a lot of knowledge that helps with the next steps. It is better to adjust your idea early in the process than to find out at the end that the customer is not waiting for your offer. Usually the idea you start with is not the idea you end with.
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