Who doesn’t aspire to work for an organization as innovative and inspiring as Google? Have you considered copying Google’s innovation engine? Take from me a word of advice. If you want to become as innovative as Google as a professional service provider, don’t copy their innovation processes.
Google’s innovation engine
Googles innovation principles are certainly inspiring. Yet there are several reasons why copying their innovation engine is just a bad idea.
First let’s start with the resources that requires. According to Alphabet’s annual report, they will be spending $10 billion on research, development and innovation in 2016. Except perhaps for Apple, there are very few other firms that have deep enough pockets to spend that much. Have you?
Second, most of Google’s innovations have been phenomenal successful, think about their search engine, Google maps, Google drive etc. Yet, they also have had spectacular and costly failures such as Google+ and Google glasses. Google certainly learned a lot from these “failures”. In other words, you cannot have success without also encountering some failures. Are you able to afford and willing to risk multi-million dollar projects? Even more important, will you be able to consider these “failures” valuable lessons learned that increase the enthusiasm for innovation, instead of resulting in embarrassment and dismissal?
Third, is the ability to generate profits from successes. Google has a 2.2 billion user base. So upon success, the opportunities to scale are tremendous. In most companies we work with – that is professional service providers – the scalability is limited because the services are complex and service delivery is labor-intensive. Upon success, how many of your current clients will you be able to reach and service with your innovation? Is that sufficient to recuperate your development costs?
In other words, very few firms have the capital, scale, and flexibility to replicate Google’s innovation engine. While mimicking Google’s practices at 1/10,000 or 1/100,000 of their scale simply does not work.
In the professional services, to have similar impact and become as innovative as Google, you have to figure out a way to have more impact with less resources.
Do more with less?
The good news is that doing more with less is very feasible. We have worked for years on developing a methodology that you – as provider of complex, labor-intensive services – can use to innovate in a manner that is efficient, effective, and impactful. An innovation process that works even if you have a minimum innovation budget.
By making use of the resources you have. That is, using the capabilities and appetite for learning that all professionals possess. After all, you hired the best and your pool of talented professionals is what makes you stand out from the competition. Thus:
First, include your workforce in the innovation process. After all, your talented employees are your most valuable asset. They are the only ones who can develop and deliver new services that your clients will value.
Second, because your workforce is busy delivering today’s services, you somehow need to provide them the opportunity and time to develop new services that address challenges your clients will face in the future. That does not mean that you free these innovators from their daily tasks. From my own experience I know very few professionals find that an attractive option. It does however mean, that you enable and reward your talent for spending personal time on innovation endeavors.
Third, because time is the most valuable resource, you need to provide education and coaching to your employees, so that they develop new services in an effective and efficient manner.
Sounds complicated? Trust me, with the right tools it is not.