On Becoming an Innovative Organisation

For the final workshop in this current BIG Network, our passionate group of ambitious business owners shared their desire to explore the theme of ‘innovation’.

As a design team, we quickly recognised that innovation is a broad church, and is of central importance to success. Our research on the contribution of innovation to performance and growth had already highlighted that many companies see innovation to be of central importance to success, that they hold the belief that they ‘innovate’, whether in new products, services or processes, and that few appear to realise the increased revenue or growth they had originally forecast. In essence, there is something getting in the way of organisations realising their innovative potential.

We only had one day to explore this theme together, so it was important to identify a clear focus for the workshop.

An initial exploration of innovation had come as a result of last year’s network formation meeting. This event had raised other fields that innovation interacts with, and these included:

  • Strategy creation and execution: what role does innovation play in organisational strategy? how can we translate ideas into action?
  • Leading and managing: what role, as leaders, should we take in innovation? how can ideation and implementation be effectively managed?
  • Culture: what does it mean, and how can we create a culture of innovation? how do we develop an environment of continuous learning and improvement? how do we embed and sustain change?
  • Branding: how do/can we develop an innovative brand in the eyes of our customers and consumers?
  • Systems, structures & processes: how can we manage the process of innovation? in what ways can, and should we promote and reward?

We resurfaced these themes towards the end of the last network session where we explored “reaching beyond strategic financial management: exploring what really drives growth and performance”, and challenged our businesses owners to agree what they believed was most important at this current time in becoming an innovative organisation. As we discussed and debated this further, the following themes emerged:

  • Successfully managing and navigating the innovation process
  • Fostering a culture of innovation
  • Innovating beyond typical organisational boundaries, and the link to ‘strategic alliances’ and ‘open innovation’

And, together as a design team, our subsequent discussion raised the following questions:

  • what does ‘innovation’ and being an ‘innovative organisation’ really mean?
  • why is innovation of central importance to organisations today?
  • what does it take to be an innovative organisation, and can we be strategic with innovation?
  • what is it like to experience the forces and drivers that act on innovation, and how can we best respond?
  • what is our innovative potential? And, what choices do we have when prioritising innovation;
  • how can/should we deliver innovation successfully in and beyond our organisations, and what role do strategic alliances, culture and process play?

From here, we sought to answer these questions in the design of the workshop. Through our exploration we identified frameworks, tools, exercises, experts and practitioners that we could draw on for the day. The way the day unfolded is captured in three subsequent blogs:

  • The Business Owner’s Innovation Challenge
  • Innovation, What Happens When Humans Get Involved?
  • How to Successfully Manage the Innovation Process

Watch this space as we publish these blogs over the next three weeks! We hope that you enjoy reading them, as much as we have enjoyed writing and reflecting on our experiences.

About us

The BIG Network provides a space for ambitious business owners to explore, challenge and resolve issues that are central to the sustainable success of their organisations. The Network is led by its members and is prefaced on openness and honesty, mutual respect and confidentiality.

For further information contact Dr Simon Raby on +44(0)1227 824740 or S.O.Raby@kent.ac.uk

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