What's Your Organization's Innovation Effort Look Like?

Your company has a digital transformation imperative. You're well on your way to automating internal processes, your finance department is leveraging data in new ways and providing rich analytic reports, and your customer support organization has implemented chatbot-on-demand services to improve customer satisfaction and lower costs. Transformation is happening all over the organization, you say. Things are good, right?

But wait ... what's your organization's innovation effort look like? What digital products are in the pipeline for development? How is the convergence of data with internet of things (IoT) and quantum computing going to touch your business? What skills are your employees lacking? How are you and your leadership teams keeping pace with the fast pace of change and trends?

These questions should not go unasked. That's because it's important not to be caught off guard.

All too often, business leaders get caught up in what is being invested in today to operationally improve the bottom line of their companies and improve processes. Many times getting the innovative new product out the door falls to the last spot on the priority list. "After all," you might think, "what we have today is selling."

Breaking the addiction of always seeking short-term gain is not easy. How will you stay relevant?

According to Kreyon Systems Pvt CEO Apoorve Dubey in an article he wrote for the World Economic Forum, "The average age of an S&P company was 33 years in 1964. This was reduced to 24 years by 2016 and is expected to shrink to 12 years by 2027. There are forces of creative destruction at play, and leaders need to be on the top of their game to survive and thrive."

How are you developing your leadership skills for the 21st century? How are you evolving to a strong culture of decision making with urgency? How many new pilots are going on in your company that you don't know about? Does your company even have a decision framework?

There are some simple steps everyone can start with today to plan more thoroughly for tomorrow. The considerations below may assist you with your planning:

Build A Strong, Decision-Making Culture

According to Mckinsey, just 20% of business leaders feel their organizations excel at decision-making. It's important to build a framework for decision-making in your company or for your team (and your budget) if you are not the CEO. Begin to shift your culture toward decision making with a sense of urgency and understand the types of decisions that are being made, as each type has its own method and set of metrics. Some types include:

• Cost-cutting decisions

• Big-bet decisions (e.g., new investments in innovation)

• Empowered decisions from team leads, department heads and others are empowered to make final decisions

Encourage Product Management

This one is near and dear to the technology leader's heart. Every department today needs the technology team working for them! How are these needs being prioritized? Vetting strong plans with good justifications can help. A strategic product manager owns the success from start to maturation. The product owner is responsible for the justification for the spend and the need for additional resources.

The next new shiny objects to invest is are increasingly important. Building a strategy for success and return is very important to win over the needed funding. Planning for scale will also be important. Identifying the opportunity cost if you do not move forward versus the benefit to the company should it invest will help other members of the organization understand the whys of the new innovation. A few points below will get you started:

• If this is a "bet your house" approach on a new digitally innovative application, define a clear strategy and build a momentum campaign for influencing the rest of the organization to join the movement.

• Define what is core to your business and what is transformative to the business. Begin to lay out a firm investment plan and the return on that investment. Act as an entrepreneur, but it's very important to embrace other members of the organization and not to alienate them. You may need them.

• Identify the skills that will be needed to successfully support the plan.

• What is the revenue model and who will sell what when?

• Begin to shift your organization's culture to one of action and urgency. This will take time and work. The decision process mentioned above could assist with this cultural shift.

Upskill Your Talented Employees:

Train everyone to be strong leaders -- not just your executive team. There are so many inexpensive applications, programs and tools out there today to develop talent. Put programs in place to help build 21st-century leadership skills for everyone. You can also look into offering resiliency training. And revamp your talent development and retention programs. You should also update your talent acquisition plan. How we sourced talent yesterday has changed dramatically. Sourcing talent will be very different in near future.


According to Dubey, "Leaders need to deal with unprecedented changes and an unpredictable and challenging future due to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This revolution is driven by the advent of new technologies. In such a world, leadership will play a bigger role than ever. Leaders will have to create and show the way forward amid transitions, disruptions, chaos and ambiguity."

Charting the course forward is not a simple one. The path will require us all to be, and surround ourselves with, deep thinkers and complex problem-solvers who understand technology. There is no longer the luxury of one simple, bright new shiny object. The future is connected, moving faster and getting more technical. It's time to start planning now.