At Inventium, organisations often come to us to assess how their organisation drives innovation. This might seem like a daunting task, but science has shown that when it comes to driving innovation, there are only nine things that really matter. So it’s these nine drivers that we assess organisations against in our innovation audit. Now I’ve done quite a few innovation audits in my time (200 or so!) yet I am always surprised to discover that relatively often, the same driver comes out on top. This innovation driver is Positioning – how your organisation and its’ people and leaders are viewed by the market in terms of innovation.

Positioning is an important innovation driver, however it should be something that is focused on only after the foundations of a robust innovation program have been installed. And from the audits I have done in the past, Positioning is often well established while all other drivers of innovation in the organisation are weak. So what this tells us is that externally, people see the organisation as innovative, however internally there are no systems or structures in place to support this view. Essentially these organisations have an innovation façade.

Now, there are a few reasons why this might have happened. It may be that the company was (long ago) founded on an innovative idea. Or perhaps the company has had a number of star products in the past. Or it might even be that this innovative position has stemmed from the company’s dynamic and creative CEO. But regardless of the reason, this façade puts an organisation at risk of falling behind the competition and becoming irrelevant (and no one wants to become the next Kodak).

If you simply rely on Positioning to spot-check your organisation’s innovation performance, then you will be lulled into a false sense of security. It is critical that you get an accurate read of how your organisation is truly performing against all of those nine innovation drivers. And you might just be surprised at what you find! By doing a thorough assessment, you will be able to identify the blockers and enablers of innovation in your organisation, and these will guide you to implement more impactful initiatives.

So to ensure that your organisation looks at how it drives innovation in a systematic way (and not just from a marketing or branding viewpoint) consider doing the following:

  • Critically assess your organisation against all nine innovation drivers. One way that many organisation do this is through the innovation survey in the BRW Most Innovative Companies list competition;
  • Dig a little deeper and find out how employees feel about your organisation’s innovation positioning in the market and why they feel this way;
  • Check to see if employees perceptions are an accurate read of the organisation’s current state. If not, communicate the true state of the organisation’s innovation program to employees to create a platform for change, and
  • Use your assessment of the organisation to develop and implement initiatives that tackle any identified blockers of innovation.