Weeks have past since there was this confluence-of-ideas inspired drive in my firm, which amassed flurry of opinions all around, from the small to the big guns. The helmsmen and change-agents here in the firm claim the venture had good impact and it will be an enabler for future growth perspectives...nonetheless my eyes blink skeptically on this and I feel things don't shake up so soon actually, even if they do the tremors and windfalls sound puny nevertheless. No comments on this further, I am no cynic :)
Based on research from various sources, I had actually put up an entry over there, on things revolving around Innovation, probably it was never read up, among the crossfire of thousands of hurled-up thoughts. Following is an edited, generalized version of the same (so as to politically save my ass):
A recent study on 759 public companies spanning across 17 global economies concluded that the factor most radically stimulating for innovation in an organization is not the research spending, or the geography, or the IP assets, but the internal culture upon which the firm flourishes. Coming straight to the point and not dealing with general platitudes, lets talk about the 'WHY/WHEN/HOW' things requisite for an Innovation Cult in a big firm:
**Innovation Measurement and Metrics: Our generation of companies have to deal with process indicators in terms of intangibles like system dynamics, clusters, risk returns, networks...gone are the days when it was possible just to have a look at firm's tech intensity, R&D investing and you can gauge how innovative the company is. Take an example of StarBucks Corp....the coffee chain ranked no. 9 in world's most innovative companies by BusinessWeek. Just sallying into new business models by selling music DVDs etc in its shop chains, it was gone places....where is it research investment...? A lesson worthwhile. We need to devise the right indicators of our innovation enablers.
**Networking and Communication on a different level: At P&G they are practicing this unique Connect + Develop strategy for driving innovation. They say they not just have 9K people inside P&G to work on, but additionally 1.8m people in the world having save kind of facility to innovate and contribute...and their model is an effort to utilize this maximum potential. It's not just about INHOUSE capabilities, instead leveraging on the knowledge society outside. We don't have enough money and infrastructure to embrace every technology sprouting in...we need strategic capabilities in a connected global model. We also need Continuous non-disruptive communication between higher echelons to the ground level...
**Personal Dynamics, Higher Management and Finally, Incentives! Another study said that some corporate cultures dictate with a 'rule-set' on how people are expected to work. Excessive focus on cost-cutting, quality, process-rigors, outsourcing vehemently leads to risk-aversion and incremental thinking, as if being hobbled with chains. Incentives can come to rescue here...A work-plan wherein entire members are expected to contribute in an out-of-the-book activity and partly compensated for the same - a sort of investment affordable ONLY in a big firms - can be rewarding. For a jump-start (If higher echelons will to take a chance!), an experimental select-groups of people from diverse backgrounds can be directed to work for a month on legitimized tasks, tasks people would come up on their OWN, task they would just Love to do!...and then they can be partly paid for the same. Won't it may serve a good purpose....or do I sound naïve here?
A giant global firm can snappily make use of the rich diversity it nurtures across different cultures, which can be consummately enriching in both ways, to the employee and their paymasters. However I feel at times corporate culture inbreds a zombie-ish attitude among the associates, each having their own-set of closed-cocooned career experiences and flicks as they get institutionalized in a big organization (Ironically, it also opens up many minds who flounder at times but swim smartly inside the big lake, and thus reach the wide ocean in long run).
Closing things up here, I feel that a firm with huge grass-root performers base doesn't need innovation driven by small set of creative minds working in silos and then being rewarded for the same, or by in-house innovation labs dedicated religiously for the same, or by Skunk works creativity or Bootlegging on darker side, but instead by an ecosystem wherein innovation comes from each cubicle, from every outreaching Heart!