Why internal innovation is hard and how it impacts your relevance
Disruption is the new reality in every industry. You either do it, or it is done to you. Naturally, it is better to play the disruptor and shake things up rather than to play catch up every time someone makes a move in your industry.
Creating disruption, or merely innovating is still counter-intuitive and hard to implement for many organisations. Well established organisations demanded quality, predictability and cost savings. Doing the same with more profit, or growing market share.
Companies are made of humans and humans value stability. Why would they try to change the game? The model looked solid, and they were good at it. The emphasis was never on innovation, let alone disruption. Many organisations incorporated innovation as part of their marketing messages way before they believed in it.
Suddenly strengths became weaknesses. Every business control that protected the status quo became a hurdle for change and innovation.
When I started talking to professionals about the need to innovate internally, I often got a response of disbelief. Really? Since when is this part of my job? As far as they were aware, nobody mentioned this before; their boss never raised the issue, and, of course, it was not part of their job description. The culture was against them.
The natural move for organisations was to innovate outside. They created incubators, invested in startups and sponsored events. It painted a beautiful picture, and it did not force them to touch the core. Venkat Venkatraman calls this experimenting at the edge, trying new things without affecting, or changing what we do. It is a stage, a useful step, but it is not all it takes.
It was clever. Except for the fact that every aspect companies do not optimise separates them from their customers, makes them less relevant. It is an open door for disruption. Internal innovation is not an option.
Internal innovation is the combined and coordinated effort of EVERY employee to CONSTANTLY find new ways to deliver value to their customers. It is precisely about reinventing the core. Our sustainability and growth depend on innovation and customer relevance. Innovation is everybody´s job because we all have customers, regardless of where you sit in the organisation.
We hear a lot about agility, but ALIGNMENT is also the word of the day. Every function exists for a reason and yet there are many examples of conflicting objectives and disconnection between teams that have a negative impact on customers.
Tim Clark explained it very clear in Business Model for teams. It is the combination of all departments working together that helps an organisation to deliver those things their customers value.
Many functions live too far away from the external customers. It is essential for these employees to understand who their internal customers are and how helping them in new ways leads to further value to the one who pays the bills. Every employee needs to understand innovation, the same way we all need understand digital trends, or analytics.
Your personal contribution helps your team to contribute their part, and it is the aggregated contribution of all teams that make companies deliver new value in line with, or ahead of customers expectations. It is time to move from disrupted to disruptor. It is also a great opportunity to spot disconnections, let go of unnecessary things, update the role of each function and get everybody engaged.
Stay Relevant helps organisations operationalise innovation and make the most of their efforts to stay close to their customers.