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Creating an Innovation Engine for the Professional Services

In a recent HBR article (April 2015), Hamel states that most companies do not perform well on innovation because they lack a coherent approach. Firms may have many elements, but these are not orchestrated to work as one coherent innovation engine like the components of a race car engine are. How should you go about creating a coherent innovation engine in the professional services?

How to create an innovation engine

The elements of an innovation engine are many, but here are the three basic ones:

  1. Mindset: employees who have been taught to think like innovators
  2. Process: the ability to work on the right problems generating the best solutions in an effective and efficient manner
  3. Framework: the support infrastructure necessary to accomplish and improve the mindset and process

Aspects most often missing

Which aspects are most often missing and how can that be resolved?

Innovation engine for professional services

1. Mindset

Many professional service firms fail to educate their employees to think like innovators, a mindset that would enable them to challenge the current paradigm or grasp opportunities related to novel trends.

Solution: Integrate an innovation education program into your professional development program.

2. Process

Few professional service firms have a structured innovation process in place that enables it to leverage embedded competencies and assets.

Solution: Analyze your current ad hoc innovation projects to distill and design innovation processes that are capable of handling various types of innovations effectively and efficiently.

3. Framework

Rarely are innovation efforts used to shape the firm’s strategy, and leadership is rarely held accountable for the inefficiencies or ineffectiveness of the innovation process.

Solution: Define your short- and long-term strategic goals, and use comprehensive innovation metrics to track progress against these goals. Hold leadership accountable when you are falling behind on your strategic goals and ambitions.

Is the Chief Innovation or New Business Development Officer a solution?

Although many professional service firms have appointed a “Chief Innovation Officer” or “New Business Development Officer” to oversee improvement, innovation and new business development activities, they alone cannot change a firm’s mindset, execute on the process and build needed infrastructure. In fact, a Chief Innovation Officer should probably just set out to build the infrastructure. As Hamel states, “The ultimate goal is a company where innovation is “built in” rather than “bolted on”—where it is instinctive for every individual, and intrinsic to the organization itself.”

Contact us

If you are interested in building an innovation engine in your professional service company, we can help you instill the mindset, create the process and build the necessary infrastructure. For more information contact us at or visit our website

Professional Service Innovation