The 3 Essential Components of Innovation Capacity

Within each organization is innovation capacity. While not every organization may currently recognize it within themselves, each and every one has the potential to be innovative.

But what does it take to be able to successfully integrate innovation into an organization?

Components of Innovation Capacity

A host of components go into incorporating innovation into your business strategy. In order for it to be a success, these three critical components must be met:

1. Technology

Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School gave an inspiring speech back in 1999 to the World Productivity Congress. During his speech he said,

“There are no low technology industries, there are only low technology companies: companies that have not yet woken up to the potential of technology to transform what they do.”

This quote is as pertinent today as it was over a decade ago. Technology can help make work so much easier in a number of ways, though one of the most important yet least used ways is through empowering two-way communication.

Almost every organization distributes weekly newsletters or email memos. The problem is, this form of communication is top-down and does not provide employees with an opportunity to share their voices. When used effectively, technology can empower employees and allow them to share their opinions in a productive and streamlined manner.

Enter innovation management software. Though originally created and designed for engineers and boasting complex and daunting user-interfaces, modern innovation management systems have become incredibly user friendly. If you are on the market for a new innovation management system, be sure that it offers the following four critical features.

2. Culture

What is proving to be the largest hurdle to productivity in the world economy is innovation—or lack thereof. There is a clear need for organizations to revolutionize the way that they have been doing things for decades in order to not just excel, but also, to merely keep up with the demands of the twenty-first century.

Here is the problem: today’s organizations are risk-averse. Very few are willing to shake up what they perceive to be a “safe” way of doing things in order to pursue the unknown. Another challenge stems from the number of rules and regulations both within the workplace and outside of it that make innovation difficult.

In order for innovation to be met, it must become everyone’s responsibility. Innovation has to be embedded directly into the organization’s culture and be practiced. Organizations that perceive innovation as being “business as usual” are those that will survive and thrive.

3. Training

It takes time to shift employees from a place of complacency to one where they are constantly seeking solutions to problems which may or may not currently exist in the workplace. Every individual has the capacity to see where there are areas of improvement. The key is to tap into these insights effectively so that they benefit the organization.

One strategy involves sparing only ten minutes a day. Every morning, after teams have settled and have had a chance to grab a coffee, get people together and ask employees what it is that is making their work difficult. Also, ask if there is anything in the way of them accomplishing their goals (read more about it here).

It will likely be slow going at first with a select number of more vocal individuals voicing their opinions. But as management improves on controlling the flow of the conversation and employees ease into this brand new norm, these ten minutes may prove to be the most valuable part of your work day.

Identifying these three ingredients for building innovation capacity at your organization is the first step to improving and driving innovation with your employees.

image credit: Boegh

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Jacqueline Zhou




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