It is obvious that the world is different now than what it was a few months ago. How the world is different is, however, less obvious. Not surprisingly, companies and public entities are increasingly addressing questions about the future – to be more prepared for different possible outputs. Future studies and scenario analysis have become important tools. Trying to predict what’s next, searching for signals on upcoming trends and drawing up the new landscape to widen the cognitive maps of management are important first steps in exploring new growth opportunities within a changed world. With a renewed view of what the future might bring, it’s time to put innovation for growth back on the agenda.
While many organizations almost by definition excel in making things scale, it is as something of a paradox, when we often see them struggling to make innovation scale. Developing new ideas is the easier part. Actually realizing these ideas within the frames of an existing organization – with its established structures and practices and ways of doing things – is the greater challenge. If ideas and experiments are not informed and challenged by adoption and scaling requirements, companies run the risk of misplaced time and investment.
Succeeding with innovation is not about taking the highest risks on the most unproven ideas off the beaten track. It’s doing so with a plan and a set-up ready for the best ideas to scale and create the most impact.
The key is to understand that while innovation and scaling are linked, they are two different disciplines. Hence, succeeding with scaling has its own set of challenges:
- It requires a different mindset, knowledge base, and set of skills. For example, emotional intelligence, empathy, and being motivated by thinking abstractly are more important for ideation, while facilitation, collaboration, and being motivated by taking action are critical for scaling.
- It requires a different pace and timing. For example, many innovations, particularly transformative, require a longer time horizon for generation and a quicker implementation speed to react to changing market conditions and consumer demand.
To recognize these distinct requirements is the first step. We then recommend you consider the following:
- Set up specialized roles dedicated to scaling within the business to ease and accelerate wider business adoption. When it comes to scaling those bright ideas, an intermediate scaling function – one that sits separately from the idea generation unit and is housed within the business function – is a huge help. To maintain a focus on scaling, specialized resources should be allocated to own scaling responsibilities within the business function
- Although the important innovation skills such as communication, strategic thinking, leadership, and creative problem-solving are fairly similar through the innovation journey, there are differences in the technical and operational skills required across functions. Scaling and growing innovation require leaders and employees who are more of “implementers” than conceptualizers, who are entrepreneurial and business builders, and who anchor their approach on market demand and customer needs.
Our recent research-report has additional advice on how to ensure the scaling of your innovations. And if you would like to discuss how your organization can improve its innovation success rate by treating scaling as its own discipline, please reach out to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the authors:
Elin Skauge is a strategy and business development professional with more than 20 years of experience from management consulting, private and public sector. She has broad experience with digitalization, strategy development, implementation in medium to large sized corporations. She currently heads the Innovation & Strategy practice in Capgemini Invent in Norway.
Kristin Ringvold is a an experienced strategy, innovation and business development professional. She has specialized competence around how existing companies succeed with business model innovation in the face of disruptive changes, supported by her PhD studies as well as her consultant experience. She is especially interested in developing business models for sustainability.