We have been working with a number of global organizations on innovation practices for New Product Introduction (NPI) and have found in companies like: SAP, Microsoft, Bell Canada, Siemens etc, - that operationalizing innovation from its early creative stages is a stocatto like tango. Balancing creative tension to ensure innovation downstream execution traction requires tremendous leadership navigation and skill.
It is so difficult for multi-nationals to avoid putting pressure too early on the creative design phases in their short-term hunger for ROI results that more often than not new innovation ideas at the conceptual or ideation stages are squashed or so heavily restricted that the creative and expansive energy is so diluted that results are impossible to achieve.
What we do know is the front end creative process at the ideation phase is a thorn in many organization's side as they strive to improve front end effectiveness to ensure ideation to execution is achieved. This requires more leaders to develop skills and competencies in leading innovation effectively to achieve sustainable growth in their organizations.
Less than 25% of organizations in North America are confident on their organization's ability to innovate or have a cleared defined new product or service innovation capability that is robust and adds business value.
Services or NPI Innovation Questions we hear consistently in our client experiences include:
1.) How does my organization innovate more effectively?
2.) How does my organization filter and track what we fund?
3.) How do we avoid filtering ideas out too early or lose track of them? 4.) How much discipline do we ned to drive innovation forward? 5.) How we evaluate more effectively early stage service innovation concepts? 6.) How do we get our leaders more comfortable in dealing with ambiguity, uncertainty, the messiness of creativity? 7.) What decision making practices are role model?
8.) What business processes and systems should we use for tracking service or NPI innovation?
There are many companies that are executing robust innovation programs, practices, and processes. We will target to feature a case study of a new company every week that helps to answer these eight questions to share our knowledge and help move along our capacity to innovate more effectively.
Case Study - 3M
3M is a $16B technology company with reach into health care, electronics, industrial, safety, consumer and office products. Most famously remembered for its' innovation solutiono - post it notes. 3M has more than 40 business units world-wide and offices in more than 60 countries. In 2002, the company celebrated a century of innovation since its founding.
Innovation a Foundational Core Value of 3M
For companies to innovate more effectively, cultural capabilities are critical with leadership effectiveness to engender confidence in employee minds and hearts. Employees need to know they can take risks to be creative, experiment, think outside the box, and be rewarded for demonstrating innovation thinking. They need to believe they are encouraged to be life-long learners, and enabled to continually learn and improve work products or services.
As the retired chairman of 3Com said: "Innovation is the key to our growth as it delights our customers and it's the basis for long lasting customer loyalty."
3M Innovation Best Practices
The five best practices that 3M prides itself in are:
1.) Six Sigma
2.) 3M Acceleration
4.) Sourcing Effectiveness
5.) Indirect Cost Control
What is important to understand about 3M is their KM and Innovation program office which supports the companies 5 business units puts a tremendous amount of focus on culture and guiding principles.
The pillars of 3M's innovation platform are:
1.) Shared World-class Technology
2.) Shared Customers, Channels and Brands