Ask any Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) or Chief Design Officer (CDO) what their highest priorities are, and they will be sure to mention sustainable innovation and championing innovation across the enterprise. It’s tough to build a culture that allows for breakthrough innovation, especially at a large organization.
Striving to have sustainable innovation programs where there are breakthrough ideas is the top goal of many companies. It’s not an easy process and takes years of investment and diligence and the finish line is never reached. However, we’ve all seen the rewards of companies that make the commitment: they are leaders in their field and consistently outperform their competitors.
Think of your innovation process as "unfinished"
If you want to create breakthrough innovations, your company should allow for an iterative innovation process instead of demanding perfection the first time. An important part of improving your product or service is finding out how your customers think and feel about new products and services. This can be hugely beneficial in terms of providing a more commercially viable product. Whether you collect insights before developing new products and services using ethnographic research, during the development process, or after, getting the voice of your consumers is crucial.
If you want to create breakthrough innovations, first you have to break some stuff in the process. I'm not talking about oopsie daisy I dropped my ice cream cone, either. One recurring theme in innovative organizations is an understanding of how important it is to fail. This shared value usually comes straight from the top. The leaders we revere for their successes have had huge wins because they've had huge fails - and learned from them. The very reason why they were able to discover opportunities for disruptive innovation is because they weren't afraid to try. If you want to succeed as an innovation leader, you have to develop more than just a resiliency in the face of failure.
Far too many companies (in our humble opinion) believe innovation should be isolated within a defined team inside their organization. We’d like to submit a different perspective. What if you could learn to engineer innovation across all of your teams no matter what division or department they belong? Could that drive the culture you’re after, and produce the products and services that people actually want? We think so, and it starts with collaborating on what inspires us at work, at home, on the go, and wherever we are where we're observing the world around us and learning new things.
The truth is, all types of people can contribute to innovation, they just need an understandable process to follow. Those who are successful in developing innovative ideas are usually the ones who know how to work through the steps of the creative process. These people don’t have a superpower, or the secret formula for creativity, they just know the best ways to turn inspiration into innovation.
Companies Are Asking the Right Questions About Innovation
At batterii, we are privileged to partner with amazing companies of all sizes across industries who have a passion for and relentless focus on using human centered design to change the way their organizations innovate in the everyday. While every company culture is unique, what is encouraging is that so many of the challenges and goals are shared, forcing organizations of all types to ask many of the same questions:
- How can we move beyond incremental innovations and the “same old ideas” to deliver more disruptive and breakthrough concepts?
- Can we find a way to move from sporadic, serendipitous ideation to a model that makes innovation repeatable?
- What will allow us to move from a reactive approach to new product development to a proactive framework that identifies trends before they overrun us?
- How can we change the way our colleagues think about problem solving, and how can we scale these new mindsets and methods across our entire organization?
Some of the world’s most powerful companies have built their success on a continuous innovation pipeline supported by a strong culture. One of the ways a culture is established and reinforced as the company grows is through symbolism. Symbolism is a vehicle for for communicating company values. Symbols can quickly and powerfully deliver meaning to stakeholders. Often, symbolism in the enterprise is used to evangelize innovation across the organization, reinforce the mission of the company, and inspire people to continue innovative pursuits.
"The primary goal was to understand runners’ needs in order to make the best products for athletes."