Innovation is the only way to survive and thrive

This is the second of a 3 part series on the top 3 attributes of a dream company.

All organizations begin because they have an idea to solve a real problem. As they grow and become profitable, they transform towards efficiency and risk-avoidance. Most want their people to just follow a pre-defined process that is working. Experimentation is frowned upon as a waste of time. Innovation happens by chance and sometimes due to the heroism of some highly self-motivated employee/s. There are many different paths that an organization can take from this point onwards, but most of them lead downwards insolvency.

For organizations to avoid falling into this trap, it needs a continuous flow of ideas and innovation. This is easier said than done though. It needs courage and investment from the leadership. It needs to take a calculated risk. This doesn’t mean that the organisation starts innovating in any area. There needs to be a strategy for innovation. The 3 horizon’s model from Mckinsey is a useful model to adopt for innovation and growth.

The 3 Horizon’s Model and Innovation

  • The model proposes that at any given time, all 3 horizon’s H1, H2 and H3 should be worked upon.
  • The organization needs to dedicate resources and budget towards H2 and H3 also.
  • Leadership should focus mostly on H2 and H3 at any given time.
  • The H2 and H3 initiatives provide an organizational structure and support for innovations that are radical and disruptive. Even activities in H1 provide opportunities for routine incremental innovations.
  • Over a period of time, some H1 initiatives will be over, some H2 initiatives will move to H1 and some H3 initiatives will move to H2 — thus creating a cycle of opportunities for various stakeholders to participate in the innovation at different phases.
  • Leadership focus and dedicated resources will result in innovations that can be implemented and scaled.

Just passion is good to start, but bad to scale

Best Practices for Encouraging Innovation

  1. Put people first, encourage experimentation and questioning of the status quo.
  2. Enable creative thinking by providing freedom once the vision is well understood.
  3. Embrace diversity by proactively creating teams with varied experiences, backgrounds and genders.
  4. Encourage learning by investing in employees’ upskilling
  5. Reward good work leading to innovation
  6. Leadership should be seen to be done

The Cave that you fear to enter has the treasure that you are looking for ….. Joseph Campbell

Leader’s need to make use of their persuasion to make space for innovation efforts (H2, H3 activities). Sometimes, they need to channelize their inner politician to garner support or budget for the next innovation. Once an innovation is realized, continue to do incremental experiments to create a moat around the main innovation. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a setup that respects everyone’s ideas and actively encourages learning, experimenting and innovation? That would be a dream come true :-)

You cannot be excellent, accidentally

Go to Part 1: Leadership

Go to Part 3: Culture

Passionate about Technology and Quality. DevOps and Agile Coach, Automation Expert. Perennial Learner.