Daily Archives: March 29, 2012

Relentless Innovation, A Review: Part II: The Relentless Innovator

In Part I, we began our review of Jeffrey Phillips‘, VP Marketing of OVO Innovation, recently published book on Relentless Innovation — a guide for transforming your organization from one that innovates occasionally, at best, to one that innovates constantly — by reviewing some astutely pointed out innovation myths, the biggest barriers to innovation in an average organization, and the problems with the average organization today.

Today, we will move on to defining what a relentless innovator is and how an organization can get on the right path to becoming a relentless innovator. So what is a relentless innovator? Simply put, an organization that pursues innovation relentlessly. What defines a relentless innovator? Good question.

One of the first things that Mr. Phillips points out is that most relentless innovators share almost nothing in common other than their ability to innovate consistently over time. In fact, the only thing most relentless innovators (Apple, 3M, W.L. Gore) share in common is an operating model fine-tuned to innovation and employees that are passionate about innovation (as well as deeply experienced in one or more areas of expertise and the application of such area of expertise to innovation). The IAU, Innovation As Usual model employed by these firms is organized around a workflow that is built on a (core) innovation team where the roles and responsibilities of every member are well defined.

Furthermore, all of the following necessary components for innovation are present at these firms:

  • A competency and culture aligned to innovation goals.
    Sight of innovation is never lost.
  • A core innovation team.
    This team is the innovation Center of Excellence and maintains the core process and knowledge base that is shared throughout the organization.
  • Central innovation method or process.
    Each individual project applies, and extends as necessary, this process.
  • Innovation skills and constant innovation methodology improvement.
    The team knows how to apply the process, and improve the process when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Idea Management Software
    No good idea is ever lost!

Furthermore, the innovation model defines innovation as:

  • a broad undertaking (not just product or service centric)
  • a core persistent capability
  • a common business practice for everyone
  • a core component of strategy
  • a process to be continually refined
  • a constant search for new ideas
  • a way of life

The innovation model is a framework for the operating model of the organization. This eightfold operating model (as defined in detail in chapter 7) provides the foundation for the communication, skills development, evaluation framework, and rewards which, ultimately, determine if any innovation effort is gong to be successful or not. These factors — which define the culture, business attitudes, and focus around innovation — are completely under an organization’s control and that’s why, when it comes to innovation, an organization is ultimately the master of its own destiny — no solo visionary, rebel employee, or lucky charm required. (Relentless) Innovation is a strategic choice, not an act of faith, and one that can succeed with the right framework and support.

So now that an organization knows that (relentless) innovation is in its reach, how does it get there? That is the subject for the third, and final, part of our review.