According to a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article, “Global companies pour roughly $1 trillion yearly into innovation…at least 10% of that sum—$100 billion—is completely wasted.”

Sound familiar?

The MIT Sloan article offers great insights and lessons learned as companies across all industries race to innovate in the age of digital transformation. Specifically, it takes a close look at innovation units and initiatives, and how they succeed. Below we offer some article highlights to help get innovation “working” at your company, followed by some winning strategies uncovered in the 2018 TIBCO CXO Innovatiovation Survey. Enjoy!

As noted in the MIT Sloan Management Review article, here are some steps you can take to ensure innovation stays on track and delivers results for your company:

1. Identify the kind of innovation you need: Innovation success can range from creating new products to completely disrupting industries. Wherever you are in your innovation journey, be sure to set clear goals that your company wants to achieve. This might include re-designing internal processes to cut costs, improving the customer experience, or addressing a new market or competitor. Knowing what you want to achieve, having the right tools, leveraging customer data and knowledge, and having the right culture all come into play when delivering successful outcomes.

2. Find the best source (or sources) for new ideas: According the article, the best ideas are probably already out there. You just need to find them, both from within your organization and externally. Some tactics to help you identify innovative ideas include internal competitions that reward employees for new ideas, external partnerships with academic institutions, and acquisitions.

3. Determine how much of the innovation you need to own: While the article notes that some innovation is essential to own—especially patents and products that provide a competitive advantage—in some cases, it may make more business sense to work with an external partner or even multiple partners. This can include opening up a platform to third party developers and providers, partnering with competitors, and sharing data.

4. Create process: While it may not resemble a traditional workflow, innovation needs process. Steps need to be taken, milestones need to be tracked, adjustments need to be made. Additionally, innovation units often need to work with departments from across the company, so defined roles and smooth handoffs are critical for success. Understanding your innovation priorities every step of the way, while “embedding” innovation into your company strategy are two ways to ensure you deliver consistent results—while avoiding shadow IT projects (not approved by the IT department) and siloed efforts along the way.

As you start to realize more innovation success across your organization, your opportunity to uncover more only increases. As we mentioned, company culture plays a big factor. The more ways you can engage all your people in innovation, the better.

So, what exactly are companies doing to build on their success?

The recent 2018 TIBCO CXO Innovation Survey uncovered ways companies keep innovation moving at their companies. When it comes to culture, below are the top three tactics for success:

1. Innovative executive leadership: Leaders that are engaged in innovation achieve more success and better results. CEOs and executives that promote an environment of innovation with open doors and open minds can make a huge impact, especially on the frequency and pace of generating new ideas at the company. In fact, 47 percent of respondents of the CXO Innovation Survey cited innovative executive leadership as the number one cultural factor in driving innovation success. This includes active engagement with employees and innovation teams, as well as fostering education on innovation in the C-Suite and across the company.

2. Rewarding innovation: Employees like recognition, especially for great ideas. As your innovation efforts gain steam at your company, it’s important to reward success. This can come in the form of innovation awards, financial incentives, or new career opportunities. Companies can also encourage innovation by allowing employees to have set times or days dedicated to creativity and coming up with new ideas.

3. Focused funding: With clear goals established, allocating budget and properly funding innovation is crucial for success. According to 40 percent of CXO Innovation Survey respondents, proper funding was the number three tactic for achieving innovation success. Companies that spread their innovation efforts—and budgets—too thin risk making only incremental steps forward instead of bigger gains that can transform a business or disrupt markets.  

To learn more about how companies are driving innovation success, get the Executive Summary of the 2018 TIBCO CXO Innovation Survey here.