Corporate Innovation Maturity Scale: Evaluating Internal and External Innovation
The exponential growth of new technology areas and the ambitious, progressive culture of startups is leading a larger proportion of the talent pool to flock away from stable, corporate careers to exciting startup positions. Although, some companies, despite their size or age, have managed to retain top innovative talent and remain competitive within their respective industries, such as Google and Facebook. The question arises, "How do you evaluate if your company is on track to remain competitive despite the rapid rate of technological advancement?" A focus on both internal innovation (creating and executing new ideas within the company) and external innovation (leveraging outside technologies and solutions to improve your business) is essential to keep up with competition. We’ve identified key evaluation questions focusing on both internal and external innovation in relation to a business and have ranked them in order of importance.
Internal Innovation Evaluation
1) Do you encourage your employees to be intrapreneurs?
While Google became known as the pioneer of the 80-20 principle, or providing the opportunity for employees to spend 20 percent of their time on passion projects outside of their defined roles, the idea of encouraging employees to work on new ideas has been introduced to more companies as a way of encouraging their employees to improve the company. Do you allow your employees to take on passion projects? Do you invest in professional and personal development by supporting sabbaticals, taking classes, or attending conferences? Giving your employees the opportunity to own and build upon something is not only key to retaining talent, but ensuring that there are a diversity of ideas being used to grow the company over time as well.
2) Does your leadership reward failure?
Most projects have key metrics and success factors that are used for the evaluation of its success. Understandably, many of these are related to the return on investment and the overall potential for immediate growth to the business. It is important to start looking at some projects in a different way, embracing the possibility of failure for the opportunity to learn something new and excel the business at a more rapid pace using these learnings. While it may seem difficult to approve projects with a high probability of failure, there are different innovation success metrics that can be used when structuring projects that could potentially transform the business.
3) Do you invest in transformational R&D?
Although many companies may have teams that work on improving existing products, the teams are only as strong as their ability to know when to transform an existing solution to a problem with an entirely new product or service. Is your company making incremental improvements to your offerings, in the same way a DVD was essentially an improved VCR, or are you working on creating Netflix and changing the way people consume content?
4) Do you have a dedicated innovation team?
Beyond the development of new products and services, do you have a team dedicated to determining the most strategic opportunities for your business? In order to maximize the value of “riskier” projects, it is important to have a team that looks at where your strengths are as a business, where you are at most risk for being disrupted, and how to pursue the right opportunities. Is this team working closely with the R&D team to learn from past failures and identify ways of recovering and pivoting?
External Innovation Evaluation
1) Do you keep tabs on innovation in your field?
How aware is your leadership of changes to the industry, including new emerging players? Are you keeping track of not only emerging direct competitors, but other solutions that have had an increasing impact in the field as well? Being able to identify how your industry is changing is crucial to help determine the right strategy for making transformational changes in your business. In addition to ensuring leadership is keeping up with relevant media, it is important to keep your company involved in innovation conferences and other events that will not only be educational, but will allow you to be represented as a forward-thinking company that participates in your industry’s changes.
2) Do you stay engaged in the tech ecosystem?
Beyond just staying up-to-date with changes in your respective industry, does your company actively seek out knowledge about emerging technologies across all industries? The most disruptive companies have been able to look across all areas of technology, regardless of how often certain technologies are typically used in their industry, and find ways of applying its enabling features in unique ways to accelerate growth. If you do know about some of the most popular emerging technology areas in the space, does your team actively discuss how some of them could be applied to your business?
3) Do you participate in accelerators and/or incubators?
Accelerators and incubators are intended to help accelerate growth by providing an innovative collaborative working environment as well as the opportunity to work with different startups in strategic partnerships. While there are some companies that have taken a more aggressive approach to innovation by establishing their own internal accelerators, there are several programs that offer opportunities for corporations to work alongside with more innovative companies.
4) Do you or have you actively pursued startup partnerships?
Although many companies attempt to form partnerships with startups, it is difficult as a corporation to engage with startups without falling victim to playing innovation theater: being able to impress observers with a certain level of engagement but never executing on the partnership and realizing the benefits to the business. Out of your past engagements, how many of them have turned into successful pilots or partnerships? Out of the ones that have not succeeded, were you able to learn from the failures and apply those learnings to other engagements?
Interpret and Elevate Your Innovation Maturity
Regardless of how many questions on this list you answered “yes” to, every company needs to build innovation into its DNA in order to set up a sustainable business throughout the ebbs and flows of the market. While starting to engage with the external innovation space and developing a culture of innovation within the company are valuable first steps, being able to sustain this even if you already follow the right steps is crucial for moving forward as a valuable competitor in your market. Sustainability requires leveraging the appropriate resources.
Chances are many of your competitors have already joined a corporate innovation program. These types of programs give your business an extra leg up on your corporate innovation goals and objectives. There are hundreds of corporate innovation programs to choose from and finding the right innovation environment for your business will give you the momentum needed to unlock bigger innovations.
RocketSpace's corporate innovation programs are specially designed to help you conquer your corporate innovation challenges. Through our diverse curriculum, businesses have direct access to new and emerging technology to transform their organization and industry. Connect with us to learn how we can accelerate your innovation initiatives!