Here comes a controversial statement: Many corporate innovation leaders lack the vision and drive needed to lead the innovation efforts of their companies.
This is my observation based on interactions with corporate innovation teams around the world and here you get some reasons why I think this is the case.
They do not innovate on the innovation process…
Although many companies are moving in the right direction with an increased focus on open innovation and business model innovation, I still see too many innovation leaders who are stuck because they do not develop themselves and their teams.
One key reason is that they are not experimenting (enough) with ways in which they can innovate on the innovation process itself. At times, I even meet corporate innovation teams that have not even heard about the open innovation term. This is quite shocking to me and it leads me to my next point.
They do not develop their mindset and toolbox…
Occasionally, every member of a corporate innovation team and especially the leaders need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask these two questions: Do I have the right mindset, the knowhow and the toolbox needed to lead my company’s efforts for innovation in times like this? The next question is even more important: Do I have a process that keeps me up updated on the innovation trends and practices that my company needs to embrace in order to beat the competition?
I don’t think that corporate innovators get complacent as such. They are just too busy getting things done and they do not set aside the time needed to invest in themselves. This becomes quite obvious at my sessions where I often ask how often they just sit back and reflect on the work they are doing and the challenges they face. Not many people at all have this time for reflection.
This is poor decision-making with regards to time priorization and it will hurt you in the long run.
They lack the courage to speak up…
Do you have the courage to tell the truth (and perhaps risk your job) when you can see that your company is moving in the wrong direction with your innovation efforts? Or do you just accept things are they are?
This one is difficult as corporate innovation teams often operate in organizations that are political to a lesser or higher degree. Sometimes you need a more subtle approach, but you must never lose your courage to speak up when things move in the wrong direction.
They lack communication skills and efforts…
Most corporate innovation teams that I work with buy into the idea that their key role is to facilitate in a way that helps innovation take root at the business units and to integrate external resources into the innovation process.
This is a good thing, but they do not realize the importance of communication related to these challenges. They need to have on-going conversations with internal as well as external stakeholders if they want to succeed as innovation facilitators and integrators and too many fail on this.
It would be great to hear your views on how corporate innovation teams can improve.