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Decoding the innovative organisation

To survive in a world of ever-increasing change, organisations must ensure they are equipped with the capabilities and the culture to innovate for the future. Innovating for the future, whilst effectively growing core business lines is a fine line to tread. To survive and thrive in the new normal, organisations need to adopt the New Innovation Capabilities. Here we examine how you can apply these to your organisation both as a leader and an individual.

1. Leadership-led change

Held back by the confines of the established order and the natural inclination to take the path of least resistance, members of an organisation often don’t believe in the need for change and therefore aren’t motivated to deliver it.

A key role for leaders when mapping the future and engaging the whole business in becoming innovation-led is communication – something which is vital in any significant cultural change. By overcommunicating, leaders will make individuals feel safe and reassured during periods of transition and uncertainty.

Communicating the behaviours expected in the ‘new world’, can help people see their impact in delivering the bold vision for the future, and the role of innovation in achieving its ambitious goals.

To ensure these new behaviours are successfully embedded, Leadership commitment and role-modelling is imperative.

GameStop’s CEO Frank Hamlin ensured his leadership message to employees, as he hoped to instil an innovation-led culture, was focused on growth at any cost as consumers moved online. This growth focused communication from leadership has led to GameStop experimenting with innovative new loyalty programs, creating successful new channel ventures and diversifying their physical retail presence.

2. Enable a rapid response unit 

An agile business can be loosely defined as an organisation equipped with the capabilities to rapidly respond to uncertainty and disruption, by fluidly allocating and reallocating human and financial resources to catch the constant waves of opportunity whilst learning from their successes and failures.

Networks of small groups containing the right people to deliver impact quickly, are a key enabler of agility.

By leveraging a data-driven understanding of their people, leaders can build effective SWAT teams by balancing the strengths of its organisation’s people based on their growth objectives.

Empowered by a shared purpose and clear objectives teams are likely to push beyond established processes to experiment, test, learn, and execute.

SWAT teams with a forward-thinking mindset focus on ‘we can if’ vs ‘we can’t because’ will accelerate innovation by learning and iterating as the impact of stage gates, approvals and permission are lessened.

In innovation, timing is everything. Netflix, with their pivot into streaming, are a great example of how expert timing can lead to great success. They built their home delivery service, recognising that technology and consumer behaviour weren’t yet ready for their vision of the future of content consumption, but were prepared to pivot their core business when internet speeds and technology usage caught up.

3. People as an ‘intrapreneurs’ 

Becoming an innovation-led business relies upon a significant shift in people’s attitudes, skills and behaviours. Individuals with an ‘intrapreneurial’ mindset will thrive in innovation-led businesses as they take emotional ownership of new growth driving opportunities.

For this shift in behaviour to thrive, organisations need to become deeply empathetic ensuring they deliver for the consumer of today, whilst leveraging the foresight capabilities that allow them to prepare for the needs of the consumer of tomorrow.

Truly innovative organisations incubate ideas best through rapid testing and learning, however they often stumble in execution and scaling. Commercial awareness is vital for recognising when there is sufficient evidence that a new idea has growth potential in practice, outside of ‘lab conditions’. Software developer Autodesk invested in their people’s innovation capabilities by showing them how to commercialise and put their ideas into practice, rather than how to come up with an idea.

4. A growth attitude

Innovation-led businesses must have a change-oriented culture that embraces and is prepared for continuous self-renovation.

Demonstrating that each member of the organisation has a part to play in innovating for the future empowers individuals to take ownership of innovation initiatives to drive sustainable customer centred growth. An innovation-led culture encourages individuals to ask themselves: “If my budget was unlimited, where would I start?” when approaching their work.

Capital One champion and make an example of innovators to actively demonstrate that innovative behaviour is the key to success in their business. Linking innovative behaviour to reward systems can often facilitate proactive engagement in an innovation culture which is particularly important in early periods of transitions. 

Innovation relies not only on culture and capabilities but on getting the fundamentals of our profession right.

Brand Learning has a passion for building the capabilities of marketing and sales teams to drive growth through innovation. To find out how we can support your organisation please get in touch.

For more on how marketers can grow for the future, go to our video series.


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