Your Firm As A Center of Innovation

There have been a lot of highly publicized programs in the history of technology and consumer companies that have tried to optimize the talent of their staff in order to create an innovation-centric organization. Finding the right fit for your firm can result in revenue and market share enhancements that cement your place in the history of your company.

Here are some considerations that modern technology leaders may want to make as they try and bring their organization closer to being an innovation center:

Past programs may be applicable

Although most people are familiar with how Steve Jobs segregated Macintosh software development workers as a way of building greater synergy and how Google ran an extended program to allow employees to use 10 percent of their time to work on their own projects that may be able to scale, there are a plethora of successful and not so successful examples that you may be able to use within your organization.

The question then is, with a busy schedule, where can you get a steady diet of concepts that might be the right type of program with modifications. Aside from the typical answers such as books, journals, and websites, doing a mash-up of all three by hiring a contractor to pull relevant data and compile it for you can be one very cost-effective way of getting the information that you need to make a decision.

Consultants can be worth it

If you spend time at consultant workshops, you’ll notice in-between sessions some commonality when mid-level consultants will share their approaches to work. Typically, the conversation touches upon how they can point out that there is something that can be done a better way regarding any topic that might come up, even processes that you know are well-vetted. At the same time, there are consultants in innovation that will take you to another dimension. Consider the tablet market. In 2001, a couple of consultants went around the tech industry and talked about the future of software development for applications and how it had to be, well, precisely like IOS and Android. Within the next couple of years, airplanes had switched over to entertainment systems that approximate some of a tablet’s functionality. It is telling that it took months of software employees flying around before tablet and smartphone efforts started off in earnest. Meanwhile, at Nokia, the first smartphone turned out to be graphically not to distant from what Microsoft was offering. The upshot is that two consultants were ahead of the curve and correctly predicted convergence, something that helped spur growth at a number of places. The best place to find consultants? Other than by popular acclaim, using a industry group that works with either process or management as a means of sharing continued education via seminars or talks is a good way of staying close to innovative consultants.

Embed ROI from the start

Although metrics are rarely glamorous, calculating the ROI of your move towards an innovation-centric organization is key because it is the single best measure of how well your program is progressing. One idea is to create a model that you can apply to all your efforts and standardize measurements across departments so that whatever initiatives that you take can be validated easily. If you share results with other managers, keeping the datasets and the methodology transparent will allow others to appreciate your efforts more fully. In most cases, ROI is simply the profit measure of all activities that you do to fulfill a function divided by the total cost of your program multiplied by 100. Of importance when you create your model will be the notion that your profits and costs are able to be segmented by process or project so that you have a modular system that compares fairly across the board. The argument for embedding ROI from the very beginning is rooted in the notion that once started, the more data that you have to compare, the better the adjustments are that you might need to make. Although your focus is technology, you will need to foster culture as well Creating technological change facilitates and spurs innovation is something that you likely already do very well. Your work environment, however, can have a culture that can vary it both its level of innovation and its ability to accept change that allows for more innovation. It pays to have a roadmap. In fact, if at all possible, do a detailed assessment of your environment before you start drafting a plan to make changes. Based on what you find, you should be able to enhance the environment so that the workers in your area are able to feel the focus on innovation all around them. Or take a page out of the playbook of companies like Maya Botticelli and add symposiums and brown bag seminars to the mix to encourage participation while developing a transparent reward system that is applied fairly.

As a leader in technology, your firm relies on you to be able to make the technological changes necessary to foster greater growth. If you can start a fire by modifying existing processes or creating new ones while insuring that you have everything measured, you should see positive results.