Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Day to Day Innovation Survey Results to date

Many of you know that we are conducting a survey of innovation practitioners.  If you haven't responded, please take ten minutes to provide us your insights.  To encourage you and to provide a mid-survey report, I thought I'd reflect on a few findings to date.

Remember that we are interested in what the people who are actually "doing" innovation think.  There are plenty of surveys that report what CEOs or senior executives think, but not enough is heard from the people who are responsible for day to day innovation projects and activities.  Thus we want to hear from you, and will report on what we've heard to date.  Here are a few of the findings so far.

Expectations versus Outcomes

So far, our results indicate that executives think innovation should focus on increasing differentiation, growing revenue and increasing profits, but in actuality a good deal of the innovation you do is focused first on cutting costs, then on entering new markets and growing revenue.  As we expected, so far there's a gap between what executives think innovation should do and what you are actually doing with innovation day to day. 

Aligning innovation to day to day priorities

We asked you to tell us how closely aligned executives' expectations for innovation are versus the day to day priorities and commitments.  Over 60% indicated there was little or no alignment.  This means that many executives are saying the right things but their goals aren't filtering down, or that existing culture or reward systems are reinforcing status quo.

Incremental to Disruptive

While executives talk about "disruptive" innovation, our survey results so far demonstrate that the vast majority of respondents report that their innovation work is very incremental.  Two-thirds of respondents to date place their innovation focus at very incremental or incremental.  This shouldn't be surprising, since incremental innovation is more predictable and less costly.

Still poorly defined

We also asked you about the definition of the "front end" of innovation.  Over 50% of the respondents said there is no defined innovation process or very little definition of the front end, while only 20% indicated they believed the front end of innovation is well defined.  There is still a lot of opportunity to define and improve front end skills and methods.

What happens if an innovation "fails"?

We asked you to report on what happens when innovations "fail".  50% of you reported that those innovations are "swept under the rug" as if they never happened, and a quarter of you reported that a failure can cause executives to lose confidence in an individual.  Corporations are still struggling with a zero defects mentality in a time when experimentation and innovation WILL create failures.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Over two-thirds of those who responded felt that their company was failing to innovate at the same pace as competitors and new entrants, and almost 75% of respondents felt that they'd accomplished less with innovation than was possible within their organization.

The results so far suggest that while innovation is a key strategic focus, it's still taking time to filter down to a day to day activity, frequently losing out to other priorities.  The front end in many companies is poorly defined and much of the innovation work is incremental.  Many of you worry about your internal innovation pace and losing out to competitors and new entrants.  Innovation failures are frowned upon and few people have a chance to develop new innovation skills.

What about you and your firm?  Do these statistics ring true or do you have a different take?  The survey will remain open for another two weeks.  Please take a few minutes to let us know what your day to day innovation activities are like.  Feel free to email me your feedback or comments at info@ovoinnovation.com.

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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 10:43 AM


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