As companies try to change innovation from an art to a science the objective is not simply to apply the organization to the task of innovation, but to change the very nature of how the organization innovates. For example, many IT innovations of the last forty years consisted of automating existing processes. Rather than improving the process, the focus was on making the process faster. Today’s innovation is about asking whether this is the right process and, if necessary, being able to change it entirely.
Innovators are easy to describe, but difficult to find. Innovation teams mix together many disciplines and this requires the participation of people who are pre-disposed to inter-disciplinary working. Often these people have degrees and experience in many different subjects, cultures and disciplines and have worked in different specializations.
The director of the innovation team needs to have a high level of skill and have credibility within the team and the corporate management chain. It is critical the director be able to manage a team of highly-gifted, willful and articulate people, and be able to speak to business and government agendas and work with sponsors and stakeholders.
When looking for people to participate in innovation activities it is vital to remember that innovators are made, not born. Many remarkable individuals contribute to the success of a company, from the design and development of the products to the proliferation of innovative human resources policies and practices.
While many of their unique abilities undoubtedly are genetically encoded, it’s clear that a company’s culture not only makes these individual contributions possible, but it must also enhance and nurture them, allowing people to achieve more as a team than they could as individuals. Fundamentally, innovation is about changing the behavior of a company from reactive to proactive.
Innovation is increasingly seen as important to gaining and maintaining business advantage. However, innovation is easy to say, but hard to do. It requires significant investment of time, money and resources as well as access to world-class research partners. Achieving this will require a diverse sponsorship base and outstanding staff. Think of it as evolution in action.
An EDS Fellow Mateen Greenway, based in London, is the chief architect for the EDS EMEA Manufacturing industry affinity group. Greenway has 22 years of experience in enterprise architecture, multi-year planning, enterprise modeling, security policies, mobile computing and enterprise application implementations.