Innovation is perhaps the most hyped word. On Google, it gives over 4,140,000,000 results. As a society, we admire innovators and expect a lot from innovative solutions. However, does innovation deliver on its promise in your organization?
The innovation promise
Among these 4,140,000,000 search results, you can find that innovation leads to:
Successful strategy implementation: Innovation enables you to execute your strategy and outsmart the competition. It sets you apart from the rest of the pack.
Happy clients: Innovative solution enables your clients to do things they could not do before, it addresses their frustration, and it opens new doors. In other words, innovation turns clients into raving fans!
Increased profits: Customers stand in line to pay for your novel, unique, and invaluable solutions. That means that you can ask premium prices for your new offerings.
Return on investment: Investing in innovation pays off. Up to 70% for the most daring and breakthrough innovations and around 10% for your incremental innovations. At least, that is according to theory.
Happy employees: Who does not want to work for the most forward-thinking company and its innovative leaders? Talented graduates and employees flock to your organization because of its innovative reputation.
I am sure there are a lot of other benefits that can be added to the list of promises above.
Unfortunately, in practice innovation does often not deliver on these core promises.
And that is, despite significant spending on innovation, technology, and new business development activities.
Worldwide R&D spending among the world’s 1000 largest corporate R&D spenders totaled $782 billion in 2018 (source).
While you can dazzle at these innovation budgets. This level of investment and the returns are not the reality for the majority of companies, especially for those in the services sector.
Spending more on innovation, however, does not guarantee that you will get better results. As Steve Job said, “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R & D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”
“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R & D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” – Steve Jobs
A major loss leader
On average, firms spent 1-4% of their revenues on just new technology projects alone (source) with a 70%-100% failure rate (source). For other innovation and new business development efforts, the track record is often not any better.
As a result, teams struggle to find the funding they need for their innovation, or any technology project for that matter, because these investments have not paid off in the past.
Clients averse to change
I am not sure about your clients, but few are interested in being guinea pigs. Most prefer to stick to what they know and what works.
So more often than not, your customers are not delighted to try out that amazing new solution that you have created for them, let alone that they are willing to pay a premium price.
As a result, instead of the high margins, you basically have to give away your new offering for free, just to get traction and prove that it works.
And what about your employees?
Because of the bad track record of innovation efforts, it is rarely the best means to get ahead and speed up your career.
Instead, it is more likely to leave your most talented employees disillusioned and looking for another job. Frustrated as they were that their innovation efforts led to nothing in spite of all their hard work.
What if innovation could deliver on its promise and would:
- Boost your bottom line;
- Help you execute your strategy;
- Provide the opportunity to explore many options quickly and with minimum effort;
- Enable your most talented employees to go after new business opportunities they envision and want to make come true;
- Help you to select the most promising projects, so that the investments become less risky;
- Be less of a lonely endeavor that is shouldered by just a few in the organization. That is, it becomes a team effort, whereby the team actively seeks support from stakeholders in the organization;
- Reward everyone for their contribution, being it small or large, because you know exactly how each individual contributed to each project;
- Make all the hidden costs in lost opportunities and unbillable hours clear, so that you can improve on the process and ensure a return on investment;
- And be the most promising and fastest path towards a rewarding career?
Sounds too good to be true?
Change the innovation paradigm
I have studied the innovation process for years and interviewed well over 200 innovators, innovation managers, and other innovation professionals during the past 5 years, and realized that we need to change our current innovation paradigm.
Instead of the current product focussed approach, a better way of going about innovation is by focussing on the people who need to make it happen. Especially in service organizations where talented employees are the main asset of the organization. As Set Godin said, “no organization ever created an innovation. People innovate, not companies”.
No organization ever created an innovation. People innovate, not companies –Seth Godin
The T4 program was born out of this research and these interviews. It enables your talented employees to explore opportunities they see in an effective and efficient way. So that you can train your future leaders and grow your company based on the ideas and talent that you have today.
The T4 program is currently geared at early-stage innovation teams, to set them up for success.
Below is a video that explains how it works.
Starting with early-stage innovation teams, the goal is to help organizations innovate effectively and efficiently so that they can change the world for the better.
Are you onboard?
P.S. More on the T4 program can be found here. If you join the T4 program as an innovator or team before October 1, 2019, we have a special deal for you. Help us prove that a people focussed approach to innovation works!