Becoming an “innovative organization” – one that is always changing, always trying out new ideas and offering new services and products – is increasingly important in a changing and competitive world. Yet many organizations struggle to be innovative. Our proprietary Innovation Circles methodology is designed to take an organization from the earliest to the most advanced stage of innovation maturity in a structured and easy-to-implement way.

Although innovation begins with a new technical concept or other “bright idea”, the new idea is just the first step on a long path to successful innovation. Technical change usually requires organizational changes as well. These changes include providing resources for technical development and acquiring the support of others in the organization or in outside organizations. Gaining this support requires negotiation, bargaining, and coalition building. Organizational change is a very complex process, and change of this sort can be very difficult. Significant innovations can be resisted, fall victim to competing ideas, or fail to be sustained. Thus innovators need both an original idea and a vision of how the world will change if the innovation succeeds. The real bottleneck in achieving success is not the availability of ideas but the organizational change needed for implementing ideas.

Four Levels of Innovation Maturity:

Innovation level #1: In this stage, an organization pays “lip service” to innovation. A formal, structured approach to innovation is not considered to be needed. Innovations occur, if they occur at all, on an ad-hoc basis with no repeatability. The innovation process, if it exists, is subsumed under an existing function such as a project management office, a business improvement unit, or the information technology department. Innovations are incremental with no overall structure or design.

Innovation level #2: In this stage, an organization possesses the first signs of a structured innovation process. A dedicated role exists in a functional organizational structure, such as a “Chief Innovation Officer” or a “Chief Imagination Officer”, with dedicated resources for the development and implementation of innovations. There may be a linkage to the organization’s existing project management and business improvement units, and the responsibility for innovation is delegated to a specialized team of subject matter experts.

Innovation level #3: In this stage, the organization possesses a matrix structure (i.e. a non-functional / non-hierarchical structure). Traditional vertical functions (finance, operations, etc.) are combined with horizontal innovation functions, for example, an Innovation Committee (comprising executives), an Innovation Forum (comprising senior managers and subject matter experts) and Innovation Circles (comprising all employees in the organization). Each employee is responsible for a certain aspect of the innovation process, such as idea generation, evaluation, prioritization, and implementation. The innovation process is inclusive, and ideas are generated on a recurring basis with clear incentives and rewards.

Innovation level #4: In this stage, the organization may be viewed as an “innovation map”, where every employee has a track record of producing innovations. The innovation process is highly structured and ideas are generated and evaluated on an ongoing basis. Areas of the organization that do not perform well on an innovation scale are identified, monitored and improved. Innovation is a repeatable and value-adding activity that is integrated into all phases of the human capital value chain including recruitment and selection, training and development, performance measurement and career progression.

Our Organizational Readiness Assessment:

  • How prevalent is innovation in your organization?
  • How much does innovation contribute to your organization’s revenue, cost and other goals?
  • How compatible is innovation and your organization’s culture?
  • How compatible is innovation and your organization’s structure?
  • Are you recruiting innovative thinkers?
  • Are you measuring and rewarding innovation?
  • What is the most appropriate innovation methodology for your organization?

Let Prophet Analytics’ Innovation Circles take you to a new paradigm of innovation.