Capabilities for Sustainable Innovation

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According to a recent Forrester Benchmarks Report, (somewhat provocatively entitled: “CIOs Are Not Ready To Support Business Innovation”), there are 3 levels of capabilities required to sustain innovation which any aspiring innovative organisation will do well to take notice. These key capabilities are clustered around 3 levels of: idea, implementation and control (see diagram below): […]

According to a recent Forrester Benchmarks Report, (somewhat provocatively entitled: “CIOs Are Not Ready To Support Business Innovation”), there are 3 levels of capabilities required to sustain innovation which any aspiring innovative organisation will do well to take notice. These key capabilities are clustered around 3 levels of: idea, implementation and control (see diagram below):

Forrester's 3 levels of capabilities for sustainable innovation
Image Source: Forrester’s 3 Level of capabilities for sustainable innovation

Some key findings from the report indicate that:

  • Sustainable innovation requires “repeatable, manageable and measurable processes” across the 3 capability levels. However, it is worth also bearing in mind that incremental change does not necessarily equate to innovation. 
  • Ideas management (including: ideation, incubation and portfolio management capabilities) is ad hoc and under managed across many organisations. Incidentally, this is the layer in which many organisations concentrate their efforts, especially during the initial buzz of launching of a new innovation initiative or program (usually with a team of dedicated people, or part-time volunteers within the organisation).
  • Various process and cultural issues will challenge implementation (e.g. change management, incentives and communication capabilities). The processes and culture of many organisations will need major adjustment to cope with / support sustainable innovation. The occasional one-off innovation, and / or slow incremental change, may not present much of a problem, but constant, sustained innovation is challenging and can be disruptive.
  • Clear differences exist between organisations and their approach to innovation control (i.e. governance, funding and measurement capabilities). Innovation programs require different governance and control capabilities than the rest of the organisation, especially for timelines and outcomes, but these will need clear boundaries on behaviour, funding and metrics / KPIs. I recently reviewed a book on “the architecture of innovation”, which discusses this, and some of the other items above, in some depth.

Based on the above, it could be argued that many organisations, (and their CIOs), are not yet fully prepared to support sustainable innovation. So the obvious question to ask: what are you planning or doing about it in your organisation?
 
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Please Note: This post kicks off a new innovation topic series on which I plan to blog regularly. This topic seems to be everywhere of late, for example, I lead a small innovation group in my business unit, plus I write about “Tools for Innovation” on behalf of the BCS Entrepreneurs Group. Given my keen interest in / involvement with creative entrepreneurs, investors and innovative technologies, it just made sense to pull these strands of related posts together under one “innovation series”. Disclaimer: As ever, except where stated otherwise, all opinions / observations / critique remain mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, The BCS Chartered Institute for IT, or any other groups in which I’m involved.

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