Three key success factors for kickstarting and sustaining innovation

14 September 2022 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read
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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over half of all Australian businesses (52%) are innovation-active – striving to embed a culture of innovation and build it into their business. But at the same time, innovation can be a daunting task, notorious for its challenges and pitfalls. Agnes Misiurny, Consulting Director for Innovation at UST, outlines three key success factors for kickstarting and sustaining innovation.

It is evident the key to succeeding in the years ahead rests on each organisation’s ability to innovate quickly and adjust with the changing winds.

To achieve innovation agility, the key factors organisations must consider include idea validation, collaboration, and ensuring the right minds are focused on the project at hand.

Agnes Misiurny, Consulting Director, UST

The idea validation process: From idea to realisation

One of the biggest misperceptions of innovation is that it’s about having a big idea, that “Eureka” moment when you instinctively know whatever it is will be a game-changer. However, in reality, innovation is far more incremental and methodical, fuelled by a great deal of perspiration than inspiration.

It is crucial to have a process to capture and recognise ideas, as well as a mechanism to assess, prioritise and validate which to invest in. Organisations must determine the pros and cons of each idea, as well as the path to make it happen and even how to kill or back out of a project if it does not take off as planned.

Collaboration: The diversity of thought

Contrary to popular belief, innovation isn’t about disruptive technology. Neither is innovation about great customer-centric designs. Viewing an idea through only one of those lenses can be severely detrimental and can even cause you to prioritise the wrong ideas or miss far more valuable opportunities.

Instead, the approach to innovation needs to encompass diverse perspectives, and bring people together with the appropriate expertise to openly collaborate and share ideas. At the very least, a customer advocate, a commercial analyst and someone who will consider the feasibility of the implementation need to be present.

Having different people with different perspectives work towards the same goal, collaborating openly and with equal input… that’s when magic can happen.

Partnership: Gaining an outside perspective

People within an organisation may be experts in their particular field or industry, but innovation requires everyone to think outside the box. When organisations solely focus on the day-to-day or business as usual tasks, it’s hard to inspire innovation due to a lack of subjective or creative thinking.

Therefore, companies that try to create an innovation ecosystem internally are more likely to struggle as they’re restricted to hierarchical frameworks. The very issues that restrict the company’s ability to be more innovative can also restrict its ability to make the necessary changes.

In a large enterprise, failed innovations can add up to millions of dollars. There’s the time and resources invested in projects that don’t make it into the market – or don’t meet expectations if they do. And there’s also the opportunity cost of not investing in those ideas which could have delivered much greater value to the customer and to the business.

To this regard, organisations can benefit from an external partner that can question their broader vision and guide them through an effective innovation approach.