Did you know that more than 90% of executives are dissatisfied with their innovation performance? Innovation is not delivering the required impact. This isn’t good enough, and innovation needs to get better.

That’s a lot of unhappy leaders.

Those leaders are investing in innovation and being sold a diamond, only to be left with a lump of zirconium. They may have seen a glint of activities, new innovation labs and well-resourced innovation programs, but the end result does not have the weight or worth anticipated.

Innovation is not delivering the required impact. This isn’t good enough, and innovation needs to get better.

Right now, organisations are being challenged to their very core. They can’t always do what they’ve always done. The established ways of working, successful business models and profitable customers can no longer be relied upon. Companies need to innovate to stay in front or even afloat.

Leaders know this. Innovation as a management discipline has been around for over 40 years. So what’s the problem?

The truth is, organisations find it hard to build systematic innovation capability and demonstrate innovation value and impact. Why?

Because innovation is difficult to measure, manage and create true systematic impact due to seven common reasons:

  1. Idea-heavy: Too big a focus on the more creative front-end of ideation phase
  2. What’s the point?: Organisations unsure of what the role of innovation is
  3. No process: Innovation not being approached in a systematic, structured way
  4. Innovation Island: Innovation not aligning or linking to the corporate strategic direction
  5. Not in the DNA: Innovation not embedded as a sustainable organisational capability
  6. No goal: There is seldom a clear set of objectives for innovation
  7. Bad metrics: Innovation being incorrectly measured and managed.

Innovation should be done better,  in order to enable organisations to deliver innovation impact. 

Numerous organisations have experienced the innovation shortfall. They’ve dipped their toes into the innovation pool, but didn’t get the impact they wanted and needed. 

Innovation has its pitfalls; it doesn’t always work. Innovation needs to be better.

An unique Better Innovation framework was created by Ian Pallister and Harvey Wade, based entirely on the “better innovation” practices  they experienced. These better practices that delivered the impact needed.

The Better Innovation framework is best thought of as a continuous journey with three stages:

  1. Strategy — embed innovation into the future strategy
  2. Operational — enable the organisation to innovate
  3. Manage — build the culture and measure the impact


Figure 1: Better Innovation Framework — Source: Ian Pallister & Harvey Wade

“Let’s just do something!”
Starting with Strategy, in our experience, there’s a keenness to get on with innovation. Normally coming from a mixture of panic and impatience from leadership.

If your world is changing around you, that’s understandable. However, jumping into activity without being clear on why and where you are going leads to future issues and failure. Understanding why innovation is needed, what it means, what must be achieved and what it will take, i.e., funding, provides a solid foundation that can be built upon.

Wheels in motion, but lay the track first.
The next stage is Operational. This is where the innovation strategy is executed and activity begins. Strategy is translated for each business area so they understand their role in innovation. This stage creates the roadmap and shapes the innovation lifecycles for the innovation portfolios. Innovation doesn’t just happen, processes and tools must be built and shared, including support for innovators. There can be many streams of activity, but all must align to the overriding innovation strategy.

People and Progress
The final stage is Manage. Although you start with Strategy, the Manage stage is not an afterthought. How will you know if progress is being made? There’s a danger in confusing innovation activity with innovation progress. The metrics of progression come from the innovation strategy, ensuring you get what you need, but being flexible enough to recognise the iterative nature of innovation. All stages feed into creating an innovative culture; an engaged workforce, aligned on creating the future the organisation needs.

Once the culture is pulling in your direction, magic will happen!

In the next post, we’ll explore each stage in more depth, sharing how innovative companies, such as WhirlpoolCisco and 3M are successful and how you can apply the framework to your world.

When you do Better Innovation, you solve the common challenges that are faced in innovation.

  • You have better focus on where innovation is most valuable.
  • Your outcomes are better: they are more successful and sustainable, and therefore, measurable.
  • You get the innovation impact where your organisation most needs it. Be better.

If you cannot wait for the next post and would like to know more about how to make innovation better now, contact us at info@innovate21.co.