Unlocking creativity

Corporate curiosity – establishing innovation capability

How unlocking creativity can change direction for future growth

While companies acknowledge innovation as a powerful tool for growth and future existence, they often lack the knowledge of how to leverage their innovation capability across their company or organisation.

Establishing innovation capability

Corporate curiosity

Innovation capability is about helping big companies and organisations change direction and accelerate when necessary. So how can we unlock creativity and deliver innovation to organisations and teams that think and behave according to the same pattern. Every person is born with the ability to think and behave creatively, known as expansionist thinking – i.e. behaviour that is not governed by rules, but by a natural creativity and openness. Later on in life we begin to move away from the open-minded approach and towards problem-solving, and shaped by an adult approach in society we move on to the type of thinking which we call the reductionist way of thinking, where we look more closely at the issues and with fewer opportunities in mind.

For the last while, global changes have taken place in businesses where globalisation and technology have made it possible to turn the whole world into a market which is active 24/7. New start-ups from all over the world are given valuations in the millions without a proven revenue model, and industries that used to be solid now find that their foundations are shaking. To many businesses, consolidation is the chosen strategy to ensure that they are able to meet future demands of consumers and provide returns for shareholders. This raises the following questions: How does anyone stay in business? And how do you stay in business?

Businesses thrive when they are able to engage their customers, and while many companies understand the urge and know that innovation is a powerful tool for growth and future existence, they often lack the knowledge of how to leverage their innovation capability across their company or organisation. So how do we help people in the organisations unlock innovation and creativity at the right time and in the right context? Innovation is broadly defined with many phases and approaches. We talk about business model innovation, product innovation, front-end innovation etc. All are valid and all are correct at the right moment in the process and for the right challenges.

Divergent and convergent process model

Corporate curiosity

Unlocking innovation

The approach to innovation to unlock the capabilities is described in the innovation formula:

identification + opportunity + concept + impact = innovation

Identification is about identifying the challenge and which part of your organisation is in need of innovation the most. Opportunities are discovered through insight – insight into consumers, partners, markets, trends, competitors, tendencies and technologies. In the world of innovation we have many methods and tools, ranging from solid quantitative analyses to qualitative research. Then you generate concepts and ideas to overcome the challenges and to test and validate rapidly and quickly. This is an iterative ongoing phase. Impact is about making things happen – this is the execution and implementation part. All four elements in the formula are equally important in order to achieve the sum that is greater than all the parts: innovation in your company.

Bridging hard and soft skills

In order to solve the formula, it is important to approach each step while always looking at the bigger picture to balance the hard-core analytical approach and the creative human-centred perspective to create innovation excellence. Furthermore, it is important to consider the varying touchpoints and experience that a customer might have and to bridge consumer insight with the commercial proposition.

Barriers to innovation in your company

There will always be many barriers to innovation in your company such as time, fear, priority, compliance, results, focus and money. The more challenges you have and the more reasons you have for developing new products and services and unlocking innovation within your company – the more barriers you will perceive as pragmatic or behavioural. The trick to overcoming this is behaviour. It is not the process or the organisation – it is the way in which you behave!

While all companies have a sales strategy – knowing the numbers, targets, channels etc. – they very seldom create and formulate the same strategy for the goal of their innovation efforts.

Three overall behavioural tricks

The first trick is the explorative behaviour, the behaviour of applying new ideas, suspending judgement, coming up with ideas and exploring their possibilities.

The second trick is the behaviour of communicating, which is very important, both internally and externally. What would happen if we generated new ideas all the time in a correct manner? Thus, the behaviour of communicating is all about letting people know when you want them to be explorative, and when you want them to assess something.

The third trick is the behaviour of openness, which is the behaviour of deliberately exposing your organisation, your teams and your people to new ways of thinking and to new and different stimuli to change this habit of conventional thinking.

Innovation strategy

When behaviour is changed, and the innovation capability is unlocked, we talk about innovation strategy. While all companies have a sales strategy – knowing the numbers, targets, channels etc. – they very seldom create and formulate the same strategy for the goal of their innovation efforts. The innovation process is the process of integrating the steps in the company to allow the strategy to be implemented and to execute the plan. Innovation is about the process, it is about the formula and finding the hard skills as well as the soft skills, and it is about the behaviour of people and being explorative, communicative and open.