Innovative Strategy & Leadership
What one reason comes to mind when you think of possible lack of the process of innovation in a business organization? To me the one word that keeps coming back as an underlying impediment to innovative behavior is “failure”. Who would (and there are some that intelligently do foster it) foster a behavior that is destined to be one within which failures will inevitably occur as a normal part of the process? Failures are those black marks on performance reviews, right? But, as I’m sure you are waiting for me to admit, I believe in innovation as a growth driver and change equalizer so for me it’s how to make innovative behavior a norm and still lead it to success.
In “You Need an Innovation Strategy” (Pisano, Gary P., Harvard Business Review, June 2015, p. 44) the author lays it out. 1. Organizational alignment requires embedded organizational strategy; 2. Departmental, functional and individual organizational information by its nature includes information regarding the need for innovation; 3. Organizational resources can be reactive to innovative needs or they can be orchestrated to align to an innovative organizational culture. An organizational strategy for innovation therefore will include multiple path communication channels, planning projects, monitoring innovative activities, doing post mortems on innovative initiatives (both success and failures), and reward for innovative behavior. Most of all, the innovative activities will support the overall strategic plan and align to it.
Pisano illustrates the decision model for creating an innovative strategy in quadrants: Disruptive, Routine, Architectural, and Radical which correspond to needs for leveraging the existing business model or a need for a new business model and leveraging existing technical competencies or need for new technical competencies. Routine being the leveraging of both existing business model and existing technical competencies while Architectural leverages neither and requires new business model and technical competency development as elements of the strategy.
So who do we think is responsible for setting an innovative strategic tone, initiative, process, and feedback system? This responsibility lies with the senior leaders in the organization. Creating the innovative strategy, with expectations, and communicating the value basis in terms of the company’s clients must be developed at the top. The reasons for this include the financial commitment, the ultimate management of trade-offs involved, and oversight of the evolution of the process based upon observed outcomes.
Innovation is a trial and error process that by its nature creates a data driven learning and growth behavior to support an innovative organizational culture and it is the responsibility of senior leadership to create the strategic dialogue about innovation and maintain it.
By Michael Sacco – MBA, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
© 2015 Stratalyne Business Solutions LLC