Innovation should be deeply embedded in your business, being an integral part of the organization’s culture and day-to-day operations. Below, I will give a step-by-step approach to make your business ready for innovation.

If you want to innovate, you need an organization that is ready to innovate. So, don’t just begin to innovate as you see fit, but first set the required organizational conditions. Innovation should be deeply embedded in your business, being an integral part of the organization’s culture and day-to-day operations. Furthermore, the involvement of employees is crucial to increase the innovative strength of your organization.

Rulebook for Innovation

First, let’s “fix the plumbing”—our description for basic requirements in every field. A true innovator has to meet many demands, but today I only will describe the basic rules for an innovation culture:

1. The organization is a learning organization in which the growth mindset is embraced.

In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Carol Dweck describes different ways to approach learning. She places individuals on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability. In Dweck’s vision, they have a “fixed mindset.”  Others believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training, and perseverance. Dweck says these have a “growth mindset.”

So, instruct your HR department to hire people who want to learn new things and are not afraid of a new challenge. Furthermore, stimulate employees to continue to develop their knowledge and skills. There is a wide array of possibilities. An organization with a tight budget can ask an employee to take advantage of some free online courses from Google. Some multinational corporations have their own academy. And did you know RevelX offers inspiring courses, training, and workshops too?

Finally, your organization itself should be a learning organization too. In other words, don’t be afraid to fail but use disappointing results as input to perform better the next time.

2. Form multidisciplinary growth teams.

Growth teams are comprised of employees who constantly look for ways to innovate. The ideal structure is multidisciplinary—the employees come from various departments. In this age of Digital Transformation, a growth team should be at least comprised of the following persons: a growth lead, a product manager, a developer, a marketing specialist, a product designer, and a data scientist.

Growth teams really play a huge role in a growth strategy. Take, for example, Canva. Their terrific growth team created a process by which they improved the user-activation rate by 10% on a recurring basis. This resulted in tens of thousands of new active users every month.

3. Give your people time and space for innovation.

Innovation should not be the sole responsibility of growth teams or the R&D department (And, by the way, I am not a big fan of silos, but that’s a nice subject for another article.) Instead, innovation should be the lifeblood of your organization. So, reward great ideas with an adequate incentive.

And no, money is not always the best way to recognize good ideas. For many employees, a pat on the back or a published interview in the internal newsletter is much more valuable.

Furthermore, give employees the time and space to follow their passions. Silicon Valley has proven that this leads to surprising innovations. For a long period, one of Google’s pillars of innovation was its “20% time” policy. Employees were encouraged to devote 20% of their time to side projects. This policy bore fruit such as Gmail, Google News, and Google AdSense.

4. Embrace the Agile methodology.

Organizations are constantly seeking new and different ways to reinvent their product delivery. During the past several years, the development areas of organizations have begun to feel the benefits of working with an “Agile Way of Thinking.” In other words, they have created the processes, tools, and training required to be able to respond quickly to customer needs and to market changes, all while controlling costs and quality.

Just an example: as part of its digital IT strategy, the Cisco Cloud and Software IT (CSIT) organization wanted to replace periodic major releases with continuous delivery of new features. To accomplish this, an Agile development process was adopted. The results were amazing! Cisco became more efficient, and products were delivered on time.

I recommend that you embrace the Agile development process too.

5. Enter into cooperation with startups.

By teaming up with startups, big corporations stay close to emerging trends or establish a funnel for corporate venture capital investments. In many instances, this collaboration is accomplished through a corporate accelerator. That is a startup accelerator which is sponsored by an established corporation. They support early-stage startup companies through mentorship and often capital and office space.

Another way to invest in early-stage companies is by participating in venture capital firms (VCs) which invest in startups in exchange for equity or an ownership stake in the companies they invest in.

In an earlier entry on this blog, Eric de Groot mentions some successful examples of cooperation between startups and big corporations.

6. And last, but not least, test the !#@% out of everything!

Testing is the DNA of every innovative organization. Through continuous experiments and market feedback, your proposition will become better every day.

At RevelX, we truly believe in this approach. Hence, we not only advise our clients to “test the hell out of everything,” but it is also part of our daily work routines. By combining data analytics with fresh insights, our multidisciplinary teams try to get a little better every day. The results make me proud. RevelX shares responsibility for innovations such as BDR Thermea‘s smart boiler and Imbema‘s Flamingo app.

Test Your Innovation Power

So, how well developed is your innovation culture? Would it be insightful to compare yourself to the competition? Our Innovation Readiness Benchmark is designed to do this and to identify the key improvement areas your organization needs to address in order to become a best-in-class innovator. Click here to test the innovation power of your organization!