We’ve spent quite a bit of time here on Wide Angle talking about innovation; it’s our position that Marketing – by virtue of its superior understanding of the customer – should play a more important in the innovation process at most companies. Lots of our recent research has focused on the problem of generating radical innovation, and it’s a topic we’re seeing members ask more and more about every year.
Realizing this, CEB has focused the latest in our Executive Guidance series on the problem of generating breakout innovation. The research team has identified 4 ways that innovation processes are broken in the corporate world:
First, downsizing and reorganization have weakened ideation networks. Top-down change – while perhaps a net positive for the organizations undertaking it – have had the side effect of disrupting the complex webs of relationships upon which true innovation relies.
Second, budget and headcount pressures have sharply reduced the ranks of mid-level innovators in typical organizations. Between 2010 and early 2012, he average tenure of mid-level innovators fell from 10 to 12 years in role, and their average age fell from 39 to 36. With less experience on the job, innovation networks have naturally suffered.
Third, as companies have adopted a more global posture, they’ve dispersed the innovation function across their footprint. Firms are shifting funding and resources to emerging markets to get closer to new customers in those regions, as well as take advantage of inexpensive local labor. The result, again, has been a weaker web of the relationships that support collaborative innovation.
Our team has identified four steps that will help fix the problem: