Companies lose their most talented innovation people all the time, due to frustration and the many challenges they face. Not only is it a loss for companies, but also a threat because, as we show in the book, most of those people find jobs in innovation roles for other companies. This doesn’t need to happen. We know better.
We’re proud to announce that our third book has just been released. Based on four years of research in eleven companies, and interviews of nearly 180 people, we’re making a bold claim in this book. And that is that Innovation has to become a business function, just like R&D, just like Marketing, just like manufacturing, just like engineering, in order to succeed for the company.
Ample evidence exists now to show that the processes, metrics, governance, organizational structure, skills and talent needed for breakthrough innovation are substantially different from those required of other business functions and processes. Companies need to develop expertise in Discovery, Incubation and Acceleration. Each is different in its own right. Companies also need to have a Portfolio of breakthrough opportunities, organized into domain areas, or strategic buckets, tied to the company’s vision of the far future and what it will be bringing to the market then. Each domain area must have a variety of projects percolating along. They’re little experiments within Discovery to flesh out an opportunity landscape of that domain. In incubation, they’re experiments to test out market, technical, resource and organizational uncertainties associated with each emerging business opportunity. All of this needs to be orchestrated and led. And it needs some support help, in the form of strategic coaches.
That’s 12 new roles. Yes. Discovery, Incubation and Acceleration roles at the project, domain, and portfolio level. Add an orchestrator, strategic coaches, and the Chief Innovation Officer and you’ve got them all. In Beyond the Champion: Institutionalizing Innovation through People we describe each of those roles, how to select people to fill them and how to measure their performance. We also provide suggestions for career paths for innovation experts. Companies should not be losing these people. We need to figure out how to create a permanent source of expertise for breakthrough innovation, and how to strengthen it over time. Champions are great, but we need to move beyond that as the answer.