In molte aziende l’innovazione è considerata essere qualcosa di assolutamente aleatorio e incontrollabile. Si crede che l’idea brillante possa venire in qualsiasi momento, a qualsiasi persona e in qualsiasi luogo.
In realtà non è proprio così. Se intendiamo l’innovazione come la “trasformazione di un'opportunità in qualcosa che genera nuovo valore” è facile intuire come alcuni paradigmi possano cambiare. Di seguito, alcuni spunti che aiutano a ragionare in questa direzione.
We become students of innovation: We don’t expect someone without training to build a discounted cash flow model or develop a marketing segmentation. Nor would we expect someone new to an industry to already understand its structure and dynamics. So why do we expect our colleagues and leaders to suddenly manifest an ability to innovate? And why don’t we expect them to study innovation systematically—both the methods they should apply in different contexts (e.g., when to use lean and agile methods vs. design methods) as well as meaningful innovations in the surrounding landscape (e.g., what can we learn from companies like Uber)? Like any other business function or discipline, innovation has tradecraft that we can learn, practice and hone.
We measure methods and results: When we start seeing innovation as a discipline, then we also start focusing on what works and what doesn’t—and we set goals and measure results. This doesn’t mean we start asking for a 5-year financial projection two weeks into an initiative. It does mean paying attention to which inputs yield better outputs; did our time spent brainstorming in a room yield better ideas (doubtful), or did spending the same time studying our customers? We start reviewing our efforts, spotting where we made critical breakthroughs and where we missed key insights. This should be the point of “celebrating failure,” which, if we’re honest, is a silly thing to celebrate for its own virtue. We make sure we salvage all possible learning, and see how it can improve both our current business and our innovation capabilities. We also look across the range of innovation initiatives underway, and ask if they’re collectively addressing the right issues. Do they have the right balance of risk and likely return, and are we dedicating enough resources (time, money and people) to them?
We make innovation obligatory rather than optional: Finally, if we can see innovation as a discipline, then we can start demanding it from our organization. We can hold our team and business unit leaders accountable for sponsoring innovation initiatives, and charge our bright, high potential employees with developing. Some of the most powerful innovators in history, ranging from GE to Honda to Google, have connected involvement in innovation initiatives to career development, incentives and promotion—because innovation is what they expect from their future leaders. Innovation also becomes an investment that we start funding programmatically, instead of scraping budget dollars together each quarter, because it’s vital to the ongoing health and success of our business. We stop hoping innovation will happen and start requiring it from each other and ourselves.
Drive innovation as a discipline for a few quarters and you’ll feel a different energy in the halls—a buzz and new sense of possibility. Your employees will likely start to think and work differently. It may even feel like a cultural shift. But I promise you won’t worry about whether you should wear jeans.