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7 Challenges for Corporate Innovation Units

by Stefan Lindegaard
October 31, 201110/31/11 7 Comments

What are the key challenges for corporate innovation units? Let’s have a discussion on this. Below you get my starters. Your input is highly appreciated!

Hit the window! The window of opportunity gets smaller and smaller and the time to success decreases. In short, cash cows are a dying race. Corporate innovation units need to hit smaller windows more often in order to create strong return on investments.

Organize for fast pace, fast change! This builds further on the above. Things just happen faster today and you need to prepare and organize for this.

Crack the X! My TBX model is quite simple. Innovation requires strong buy-in from the top (T) and support from the bottom (B), but the real challenge comes from middle managers including business unit heads across the organization (X). They often hinder innovation just by doing their job and they tend to see threats rather than opportunities in innovation. Winning them over is a key challenge.

Develop yourself and your teams! Too often, innovation people do not get – or take – the time to get new insights or just reflect on the many things that happen. Personal and team development must be prioritized higher even though it is hard to find time for this.

Open up your efforts! Open innovation is here to stay, but it is still a major challenge for many organizations – and thus corporate innovation units – to open up and merge internal and external resources. (Check my new book on this.)

Build sandboxes – and use them! Experimentation fits well with the open innovation paradigm shift that brings more opportunities and diversity. Sandboxes for innovation experimentation have gone from nice-to-have to need-to-have.

Become better communicators! It used to be that branding, marketing and promotion was all about the innovation outcome. Not anymore. Communication is becoming increasingly important as corporate innovation units need to promote their innovation capabilities and become the preferred partner of choice within the innovation ecosystems.

What do you think? What can you add?

Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. pia koch says:

    Breathtaking to increase the pace, but otherwise good points.
    BR Pia Koch

  2. Christophe says:

    As failure is also a part of innovation, I would add : try and you fail, fail fast and fail cheap, and take lessons from you failures.

  3. terje sand says:

    I would add – see the opportunities that is in the service society -that challenge all kind of valuecreation. Most people love products and product features – howevere the future value is in the intangibles and service logic.

  4. Pantea Lotfian says:

    "Hit the window! The window of opportunity gets smaller and smaller …"
    I would suggest the window of opportunity is not really getting smaller but rather it is a moving target you have to hit. When companies are able to identify opportunities, or create them-the best example for this is Apple- the window is well sized. However, given the pace of technological change as well as saturation of value chain optimization opportunities to gain efficiencies, companies and their business units must continuously seek windows of opportunity outside of their familiar markets and be prepared to address those opportunities with unfamiliar and new technologies. This makes a strong case for implementing open innovation initiatives to locate the “moving window of opportunity” both for markets as well as relevant and up-to-date technologies.

    • Stefan Lindegaard says:

      Fully agree that is a moving target – and it moves faster! I would still argue that is has gotten smaller because of the fast pace of changes that makes an innovation investment seem relevant for a shorter period of time.

  5. Interesting, I would like to add: Break the rules… Too many good ideas and innovative solutions get lost because innovative teams one do what they are told to do… Don't give them what they want, give them what they do not they need.

    • Stefan Lindegaard says:

      Good point! Being able to break the rules is an important capability. It is also a challenge to develop and exercise such a capability.