Innovation Perspectives – Motivation for Innovation

This is the fourth of several ‘Innovation Perspectives‘ articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on ‘Should companies treat innovation management as a core competence? And if so, how?’. Here is the next perspective in the series:

by Jose Mello

Innovation Perspectives - Motivate to InnovateHow to create an innovation strategy that fits the organization needs and culture?

Innovation management, for sure, is a core competence to be developed in all companies. It is the best way of creating sustainable growth and surviving in such competitive scenario. But how to create an innovation strategy that fits the organization needs and culture?

First of all, the company needs to think about what is your motivation to innovation. The employees of a company won´t become more innovative just because their senior management wants them to be. It is necessary to identify what is your reason to innovate, a common reason that will create an environment where innovation could be nurtured and grown.

Many strategies could be applied, from a total internal development department to a venture capital approach. There is no right or wrong, because innovation is not a single path and different strategies will bring different results to different companies. It´s necessary to understand what makes more sense to your kind of business and, also, to your organizational culture. But one thing cannot be forgotten, you need to understand who is your client, how is he/she connected to your products and services and how do they live and behave in such chaotic and changing world. And you won´t be able to see that through the window of your headquarter building. You need to go outside and see how people behave in real life. There is a Brazilian song from a highly respected singer called Milton Nascimento that says “The poet needs to be where his public is” – and not the opposite. Some companies invite clients to their opulent headquarters and put them together in a meeting with other clients and the boards of directors, expecting them to say what are their needs. That is the same of taking a Lion from its habitat and put it on a cage to study his alimentary behaviors. It is not going to work. An approach that is becoming more popular due to its results is the Human Centered Design approach which is a good way of understanding your clients needs and design products and services that are really connected to their lives and make sense to them. All of the most innovative companies we admire use that approach in some way.

The last but not the least, you should think about incentives to engage people into your innovation initiatives. To take part on an innovation effort, the employees need to feel that they are working for themselves and not for the company. It is important to understand what motivates people to engage into a new project and reward them for the success of this new venture. The employee is a person with needs and dreams, just like anyone else. Partnership is the most important thing to keep in mind. Companies that are achieving success in innovation, just like Google, Siemens and Cisco have created programs based on partnership with employees and even with clients to reward their effort on designing new products and services. The person receives dividends from the products/services they created and developed.

Motivation to innovation, client at the center of your business and partnership with employees are the three pillars that can support your innovation strategy and drive you to treat innovation management as a core competence.

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You can check out all of the ‘Innovation Perspectives‘ articles from the different contributing authors on ‘Should companies treat innovation management as a core competence? And if so, how?’ by clicking the link in this sentence.

Jose MelloJose Mello is a teacher, speaker and a specialist in innovation management at Itau Unibanco Bank, in Brazil.

Jose Mello




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No Comments

  1. jose ricardo on October 1, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Creio que Inovação ainda é uma mentalidade que muitas vezes passa pelas pessoas acreditarem que é e deve ser algo inimaginável ou fora do comum, algo tão incrível que elas mesmas não teriam capacidade de realizar, quando na verdade é algo bem mais palpável e concreto. Para mim, esta mentalidade passa por uma quebra de paradigma muito forte e que muitas vezes torna essencial que as pessoas pensem a respeito disso… ou seja, é tão simples, mas que demanda um certo trabalho inicial, e acho que nem todos gostariam de se dispor a este esforço.

    Parabéns pelo artigo… mande sempre para poder me atualizar.



  2. Marcelo Da Poian on October 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm


    First of all congratulations! I´ve really enjoyed your article and I strongly agree with all you wrote.

    But there is only one thing that concerns me, how to measure if an innovation strategy are being successfull or not?

    Of course that customer satisfaction would be the most logical index to answer this question but how we can be sure that innovation strategy is directly responsable for increasing or decreasing my customer´s satisfaction or if this results are consequence of actions from other departments?

  3. Jose Mello on October 3, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Marcelo,

    This is a very good question!

    Measure the result on innovation is really hard. But that happens because when we think of innovation, we always think of a department, an activity or a product. The regular measurement indicators can only measure what happened in the past. It cannot measure the future impacts of the decisions we are making now.

    Innovation needs new ways of measurement, because innovation is a long-term vision. It is a matter of deciding in the dark which steps should be taken that will guarantee the companies survival in the long term. It is the ability to adapt and reinvent the company across generations.

    So, what if we think of innovation as a capability, rather than an activity?

    What if we measure innovation efforts based on the company’s ability to foresee and leverage future trends?

    What if we measure innovation based on employee’s level of engagement in initiatives that will design and test new generations of products and services?

    What if we measure innovation results based on client’s pride or willingness to use your new products and services?

    This is a paradigm shift that we will need to face.

    Sometimes I get a bit anxious because we still don’t have conclusive answers to those questions, but on the other hand I’m glad that we have this problem. Because the first step a solution is to recognize that you have a problem to be solved. Only innovative companies and people are thinking about that… 😉

  4. Jose Mello on October 3, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Jose Ricardo,

    Obrigado pelo apoio e reconhecimento!



  5. Kelly on October 6, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Olá Mello,
    Li o seu artigo vários pontos chamam a atenção mais um em especial: é trazer as pessoas, motivá-las para fazer parte da inovação.
    São com seres humanos que trabalhamos e para que se alcance qualquer objetivo, as pessoas tem que ser envolvidas colocadas como parte importante e não apenas mais uma peça no tabuleiro.
    Inovar é fácil, mais tem que estar na cultura das pessoas, mais tudo tem seu ínicio, maturidade e fim, então entendo pode demorar um pouco, mais quando estiver no sangue e na mente das pessoas a inovação passará a fazer parte do dia a dia, de uma forma natural, trazendo benefícios e muito outros ganhos.
    Parabéns e nos deixe sempre informados, ok?


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