Why It's Time to Invest in Innovation

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on January 26

As we prepare for the next decade, the recession and financial crisis will play a major role in driving the innovation agenda. Most companies will cut R&D and development budgets. But this is actually the time to invest in sustainable innovation, as it is the only way we can get out of today’s economic malaise.

Here are some observations and recommendations to move innovation forward into 2010 and beyond.

Observations:

• Innovation is taking place in emerging companies and countries around the world.

• Plunging stock prices in this economy have made multinational companies more vulnerable to acquisitions. Emerging growth companies that are becoming innovation leaders could quickly amass greater market cap values and overtake or take over yesterday’s leaders.

• Going green is a business imperative and the key to driving profitability and competitiveness.

Recommendations:

• CEOs must continue to drive the innovation agenda and lead by example.

• Empower innovation workers to accelerate product development, eliminate risks, and sustain the innovation process.

• Invest in cutting-edge product initiatives that enhance market share and market cap.

• Deliver products that consistently meet customer, regulatory, and environmental demands

• Translate intellectual property into revenue generating products quickly. Monetization of patents is the key metric for measuring return on innovation.

In conclusion, companies must innovate to dominate in the next decade.

Mark Atkins
Chairman and CEO
Invention Machine
Boston

Reader Comments

Bob Eckert

February 11, 2009 04:03 PM

It takes uncommon bravery and foresight to invest in building innovation capacity in a "down" climate.

For organizations that have matured their sustainable innovation capacity, we'll likely see simple steady support of the systems and structures that are helping them. We'll also likely see a greater focus on applying innovation skills to internal challenges in the area of cost savings and efficiency. We're seeing symptoms of this in our practice, as we have in other downturns.

What happens is that some of our clients de-emphasize training in skills and mindsets that support innovation and they refocus attention on well facilitated meetings that look for both savings and new growth opportunities. Our clients who have been at this for a while, and who have built an internal innovation facilitator corps, are having that group deploy away from their "day job" more intensively and focus on facilitating creative problem solving sessions more frequently in their organizations. In the case where we are that capacity for them, we're getting quite busy facilitating "this problem must be solved" kinds of meetings.

For those of you reading this and wondering how you might overcome the fear-of-investment factor, you might enjoy a lighthearted take on the “Fear Pandemic” that is killing innovation. Mark makes the point that “CEO’s must continue to drive innovation and lead by example.” You’ll find the Fear Pandemic article here: http://www.newandimproved.com/newsletter/1195.php

We know from the research that the single greatest impactor on a culture of innovation in the organization is the behavior of the individual who is most senior. So if you’re a CEO, that’s you for the entire Enterprise. If you’re a Divisional VP, that’s you for your Division and so on down the line. So the creative question is “How do I need to behave such that I foster a creative, innovation energizing organizational culture?” We’ve spent more time researching, coaching and training in this area than any other. We wrote up our key learnings here: http://www.newandimproved.com/newsletter/2025.php

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