The art of innovation: InnovationOS

Michael O'Reilly and Frank van de Ven outline how to avoid the innovation gap
Pro

28 February 2024

In associaiont with NTT Data

In a survey published by NTT Data, 96% of executives said innovation was a primary source of growth for their enterprise. However, only 11% had successfully brought breakthrough innovations to the market. Why was there such a big divide between the evident desire to innovate and the ability to execute – also known as the ‘innovation gap’?

For one, the innovation gap can be expanded by existing enterprise structures and how work is organised. New ideas are great and typically well received but they will bring change, uncertainty and, potentially, conflict. This drives unwillingness to give up the past and start creating the future. And let’s face it – most companies don’t measure employees on their innovation skills and launching new products, but on maintaining the existing business, preferably risk-free.

 

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Another essential enterprise structure that prohibits the proper execution of ideas is the need for organisation and communication around innovation. Clear role descriptions, frameworks, training, success metrics and communication guidelines are essential to create an infrastructure supporting innovation.

Innovation can be defined in many ways, but they all share the common principle of taking an idea and maturing it from inception to execution and, finally, to impact. Innovation needs a straightforward, well-defined process to realise its potential and deliver maximum value.

The need to innovate

There could be many reasons why it is time to adopt a more structured approach to innovation. Some of the typical indicators are:

  • You are (or have) a visionary leader but still need to implement an innovation process
  • You could lower the costs of ongoing business/legacy platforms to fund innovation and progress (for example, by moving to the cloud)
  • You and your teams have many ideas, but you need to know where to begin structuring them, or those ideas live in different, disjointed ‘pockets’ in the organisation
  • You would love to start experimenting, but there needs to be a structure to do so
  • You are already innovating and gathering ideas, but you need a set of metrics or key performance indicators and structure to advance

When you recognise yourself in any of these statements, chances are you will need to give the way you approach innovation a better thought.

InnovationOS

NTT Data has worked with organisations that struggle with their ability to execute and those that have succeeded. Based on our learnings, we have created InnovationOS, an innovation programme that drives business value. It helps companies adopt and adapt innovation processes into their DNA.

We built InnovationOS from three tenets. These are:

  • Innovation can’t be an add-on; it must become part of your machine
  • Innovation is a trap when it’s disconnected from the business
  • An innovation programme that is business-value obsessed

As pointed out, it is vital to have a straightforward process for innovation. InnovationOS offers a roadmap for repeatable innovation to manage ideas and support people in getting those ideas to market with a clear understanding of value. This roadmap consists of:

  • Source: Uncover all great ideas so nothing falls through the cracks
  • Prioritise: Measure each idea dimension that makes sense to your business (desirability, feasibility, competency, alignment, etc.)
  • Experiment: Prototype relentlessly to gain knowledge and confidence
  • Operationalise: Build processes that step out of the Lab and into the real world
  • Scale: Scale your best ideas and operationalise innovation across the organisation
  • Promote: Promote wins and broadcast tangible results, always focused on business value and celebrating success

Not all organisations need to be disruptive innovators, but every organisation needs to develop at least some ‘innovation senses’ to stay relevant and current with customer demand. Not doing so might result in stagnation and loss of market share.

We recommend developing an ‘innovation identity’ to understand what type of innovator you want to be. What’s your risk appetite? Do you want to be a fast follower or come up with new-to-the-world products? Are you willing to make big, bold bets or trust the tried-and-true? Additionally, the ever-changing technology landscape requires companies to assess how tech impacts–or disrupts – their industry and offering. Experimenting can be an excellent tool for that.

Impactful results

InnovationOS has helped companies navigate and build an innovation culture that is unique to them. For example, we supported US-based Electric Service company DTE in establishing a ‘centre for innovation’ to drive fundamental change for its clients. This included a new identification and evaluation process, a structured operational delivery program, a managed pipeline and portfolio and a new, custom brand. The results? 6x faster speed-to-delivery, 215+ lifetime projects in the pipeline, $604 million Identified value over four years.

Our mantra for InnovationOS is to drive growth through programmatic innovation unique to your organisation. Success is measured by the value Innovation can bring in monetary terms but also by improving your business’ innovation philosophy and culture.

Innovation comes from people and people need environments to connect and nurture ideas. So, ask yourself what two things you could change to create a foundational environment for innovation and take the first steps in defining your own innovation identity.

Michael O’Reilly is CTO, EMEA, NTT Data and Frank van de Ven is executive senior director, Launch UK & Ireland by NTT Data


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