Great ideas can come from anywhere, but they must go somewhere if you want them to grow into successful innovations. Creating your own internal Innovation Center is the key to assigning ownership of and responsibility for your most innovative projects.

Centralized control is not enough, though. Our research shows that even well-organized innovation projects often fail to achieve their objectives due to:

  • Resource bottlenecks that lead to a succession of missed milestones
  • The traditional “black box” perception by the parent organization
  • Inability to “sell back” the conceptual framework to the parent organization
  • Breakdowns during the execution phase
  • Inadequate use of the scale of the parent organization

The goal of an Innovation Center is resolve problems like these before they can derail the project. They may operate within a newly created innovation department, a unit that already exists on your org chart, or a collection of satellite innovation teams that collaborate remotely.

Based on the work of Innovation360’s Peet van Biljon and Magnus Penker, several conditions determine the form and function of your optimal Innovation Center, such as:

  • How the innovation is linked to the growth strategy of your parent/owner organization
  • A series of defining factors that impact the geographic location of the Center
  • Your prevailing governance and reporting structures
  • The extent of your parent organization’s formal/informal involvement
  • The operating business model of the innovation
  • How you handle talent management, including identification, selection and incentives

When designing an organization’s innovation strategy, you need to look carefully at your strengths and weaknesses. This applies at the organizational level, also within the teams responsible for innovation. Assess your creative leadership, your options for innovation strategy and your capacity for acting quickly on new market conditions.

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