In our introduction article, “Growth leaders – The growth hackers of large enterprises “, we highlighted the importance of GOAL and MEDIUM aspects. This first in the series article focuses on driving ‘growth’ with Innovation as a medium and the evolving role of growth leaders in achieving the same.
Large enterprises have a sense that innovation is important and realize that having an in-house innovation head looks good. The urgency to innovate better, faster, and more consistently has led many companies to look for a leader to help drive innovation. With one in five executives touting innovation as their top priority, they are in need of a captain to help guide the organization through turbulent times: a rapid rise in ways to source innovation, technological advances, potential disruptive new entrants, and complex internal politics.
Current Scenario of Innovation Strategies
There are multiple ways enterprises are driving innovation in the organizations. Innovation is popularly driven by collecting internal stakeholder ideas – from employees, managers etc. using in-house idea management tools. This Internal or Closed Innovation type is the most popular amongst, IT, software, and product-based tech companies like IBM, Apple etc. Usually, top-level management, who have worked with higher number of years with the enterprises co-ordinate these activities.
When it comes to industries like chemical, manufacturing, innovation is looked upon as a more distinguished function, where the organization has separate teams who are given the responsibility. Innovation is achieved by scouting and collaborating with external technologies, inventions and adopting them as per organization’s need.
Another popular, proven method of innovation that is carried out is to engage customers to identify and define their next products (such as Hallmark Cards’ use of contests to enable consumers to create new greeting cards). This trend applies more in consumer-based business, where organizations need to innovate continuously.
The Role of Innovation (Growth) Leaders is rapidly evolving
Basis our experience working with Fortune 500 clients, we realized that Innovation leaders are evolving more than ever to keep up with the demands of rapidly changing markets and disruptive technology and software solutions. By default, the position connects technical and business departments within companies, but the required background of the person holding the position differs depending on the organization.
As discussed above, few enterprises pick a tech-heavy background who are also business savvy so that they can understand business goals and affect innovative change. Other organizations look for candidates who have an impressive business acumen and a technological orientation so that they understand the nuance of implementing the innovations they spearhead. For example, when it comes to R&D heavy organizations, the responsibility is given to the individuals who emerge from R&D backgrounds, Ph.ds, or Subject matter experts (SMEs).
The New age Innovation Leaders – Enabling Innovation for Business Growth
Ideapoke has listed the key attributes for next-gen innovation leaders, which transforms them to Growth Leaders:
- Be up to date – data is changing very fast, depending on old ways of research will not help. Rapid technological changes could mean that a Consultant’s recommendations are out of date.
- Creating and maintaining agile innovation processes – There is nothing like a proven, fixed, planned strategy. Leaders need to build more agile methods, which can adopt to any sudden changes
- Adopt external innovation more broadly – Bring the outside in – He/she needs to be theeyes and ears of the organization, looking beyond the company’s own data, actively seeking for external information, before competitors.
- Cross-pollination mind-set – generate cross-category insight by pulling inspiration for growth from beyond the organization and its core industry. The seeds of solutions to healthcare problems can be inspired by what is happening in financial services.
- A jack of all trades – An innovation leader may have background in a particular area of expertise, either technical or purely business, but to enable innovation as a medium for growth, the individual should be a jack of all trades.
- An Innovator but also an enabler – The next-gen leader needs to is himself the innovator, who seeks and develops ideas and handles innovation as a project manager. At the same time, who creates structures and processes to drive innovation across organization.
- Partnering with third party innovation collaborators – Openness to work with partners, software, tools which can not only accelerate innovation process but also help you adopt new strategies and frameworks.
The role of innovation leaders will continue to evolve with growth in digital adoptions and advancements. However, irrespective of the industry, region, market, Innovation leaders need to have some common attributes/skill sets to empower their roles and evolve as growth leaders for their organizations.
Ideapoke with its unique experience in enabling innovation for enterprises, particularly in the areas of open innovation, technology scouting, has worked with many Innovation leaders across industries. We have evolved organically with a continuous learning process from our clients, inventing new ways, execution frameworks to accelerate innovation & add more value. Get in touch with us to understand how we can help ‘Innovation Leaders’ to be ‘Growth Leaders’.