Building innovation capabilities.
How do you build corporate innovation capabilities? Discover how to start innovation transformation in your organization.
How can you make enterprise innovation scalable and sustainable?
Innovation can be anchored in the company’s DNA by building and coaching an internal innovation team, setting up a train-the-trainer program, developing an innovation playbook and toolkit, or developing a larger multi-year transformation program.
We believe that innovation- and design-driven organizations have a long-term advantage. When we work with clients, we always aim to build a sustainable, in-house innovation capability. Not just run an accelerator or a design sprint, but see how we can make it stick within the enterprise.
Acquire future-proof innovation capabilities.
If there’s one single thing we’ll owe design thinking for the rest of our lives, it’s the call for empathy. Put the end user at the very center of your innovation process, and you’ll design new solutions that customers will love.
Adaptability & agility
A fast-evolving world requires rapidly transforming capabilities to keep the pace. Make your employees accustomed to positive change, and find the right people who, by their own nature, thrive in change and agility.
An innovative culture and the right set of creativity techniques are essential. Enhance your team’s customer-focused mindset and skills in developing new products, services, and business concepts, as well as finding new markets for your innovative technology.
Turn your managers into intrapreneurs. Make them adopt a hands-on approach to their projects, using a wide variety of entrepreneurial tools as well as a structured intrapreneurship process to change ideas into market-ready solutions.
Encourage a culture of experimentation, where you learn as much as possible, as fast as possible. Invest 50k per cycle, instead of 500k. Iterate. Adopt Lean Startup’s build-measure-learn methodologies.
Although innovation needs its freedom to operate, a structured yet light-weight innovation process will enable innovation projects to move forward swiftly. A separate governance structure can help to safeguard innovation programs.
How do you create in-house innovation capacity?
Our experience in designing and running multiple innovation projects for corporates like ING, Philips, Roche, and other clients, has shaped our approach. Here’s how. We start with an innovation capability scan or assessment to define your innovation readiness and maturity.
Next to this capability audit, we offer inspiration of benchmarks on how to structure an innovation capability (central vs. decentralized, funding mechanisms, scalability options,…). Right away, we take a very hands-on approach; learning by doing through the following phases.
01. Discover (2 months)
You can’t change if you don’t know what you’re trying to change. The first phase of an Innovation Transformation Program starts with a deep understanding of the current culture, the existing capabilities, and the strengths of the ongoing organizational structure. Next, you plan the needed innovation initiatives for the first Pilot project(s) + earn the buy-in of management. Rule of thumb: start small.
Is there a bottom-up or top-down approach to new initiatives? Is entrepreneurship encouraged? If no, dig deeper into why not. How customer-centric is the workforce? To what extent is your management aware of new customer trends and future scenarios? Understand what has caused the status quo.
What are the departments (marketing, R&D, innovation center, …) that push the most innovative services and products? Is there a central Innovation Department? Are there innovation teams selected within or across BUs? How are new projects financed?
Which initiatives proved to be the most effective? Which teams are delivering the best results?
The details for it really vary from organization to organization – read further for suggestions on designing a good change strategy, or book a call with us to get additional insights.
Who would be ideal ambassadors for the Innovation Transformation Program? We recommend a team of 7 people who can influence and tap into various areas of the organization. Most likely the transformation will affect other departments and you want them on your team.
On the basis of the insights you gathered from the previous steps, you’re able to create a playbook – a declaration of intent where you define the goals you want to achieve through the transformation and the methodologies and tools you plan to use.
02. Pilot (3 months)
Learn by doing, via first pilots. Don’t just tell people what they should do – teach them the new Way of working through concrete projects. A study shows, learning by doing is 7x more effective than reading, and 15x more effective than simply listening.
Select one or two project(s), with project scope(s) that are realistic within the set timeframe and the allocated resources (use this scoping canvas as a guide). The project(s) will be your sandbox where to experiment, test, learn and adapt your Innovation Transformation Program, before scaling it to the entire organization.
Select hands-on, 110% motivated, T-shaped individuals. Opening an internal enrolment on a voluntary basis will ensure motivated team members. The hats you need? Look for a Team Lead, a Tech Lead, a Customer Lead, a Business Lead + an external Innovation coach (need one?).
A Design Sprint (usually with a different scope) is a good first step to bring the team together, to give the first insight into Lean Startup and Design Thinking mindset, and to create commitment and motivation by creating quick results. Make sure to share the experience with the rest of the organization, even if it was a failure.
Add (short) theoretical sessions to the program, to give the team the fundamentals of Innovation Transformation. We usually focus our training on a blend of Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Scrum/Agile methodologies (more details here).
Nike already claimed the slogan, but it’s true: just do it. Doing stuff is the best way to learn. Document your learnings – this you will thank yourself for when you later are going to scale your efforts. Having numbers on e.g. the amount customer interviews and the results can help convince management to back further initiatives.
Make sure to have extra Innovation Transformation expertise to challenge the process and to bring an external point of view.
Bring the project team(s) away from their daily workspace and dedicate spaces in your building for the teams to work. Set the stage for innovation in informal, comfortable spaces (pro tip: provide healthy snacks to keep the energy high).
03. ADAPT (3 months)
The pilot project(s) are concluded. Before scaling the Innovation Transformation Program to the broader organization, collect feedback from the stakeholders involved. You may need to adopt some components, for example duration of projects, intensity of training, weekly commitment, diversity of the team and the tools used.
What worked well and what should be improved in the first pilot projects? Have you achieved the impact you wanted? If not, why?
Are the project loops long enough to deliver actual results, and short enough to grant efficiency? Are the teams the right size, composition? Are the team adequately committed?
One goal of the Innovation Transformation Program is to train the right tools and mindsets to the participants so that they can use them in their daily routines and share them with colleagues. Are these tools well-suited to be shared and included in the daily routine? Can they be improved?
A center of excellence (CoE) is a formal group in the organization that coordinates innovation initiatives to ensure that innovation is structurally embedded in the organization. Make sure to have such a structure, and transfer control of the Innovation Transformation Program to them.
If you rely on external experts to design your Innovation Transformation Program, make sure they transfer their expertise and capabilities to internal coaches – in this regard, we deliver Train-the-Trainer sessions to build internal expertise in your organization. This will prevent you from being dependent on external consultants.
The commitment of executives and CIO is fundamental in scaling the Innovation Transformation Program to the broader organization.
04. Scale (3 months)
The pilot served as a learning space, where a sub-group of the organization went through a real-life business experiment to learn a new way of working. When scaling the same format to more projects, keep the same run-learn- adapt loop: the Transformation Program itself needs to be continuously updated to achieve the greatest learning experience and to make the new capabilities transferable to the participants daily jobs.
Run multiple projects – real-life business experiments – with multiple teams. The participants of the previous projects would be ideal candidates to lead the projects with support from an Innovation coach.
Create a sharing environment where the teams (or the team leads) periodically come to the same room and mutually exchange opinions and insights. Keep sharing learnings and results coming out of the projects with the rest of the organization.
Create a community both for people who have practiced the innovation approach and for the coaches. The goal: to efficiently transfer the learning points into the daily processes and spreading it to more people.
At this point, you should have already trained internal coaches for innovation transformation – internal points of reference that will make your organization independent from any external consultants or experts.
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Board of Innovation makes Fortune 500 corporations innovate like startups, mixing proven methods from design thinking and lean startup strategies.
Building innovation capabilities.
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