Innovatingis the most important activity for a company today. In a changing and constantly evolving world, the need to continuously generate improvements and innovations cannot be denied.
On the other hand, innovating is slow, expensive and uncertain. How much money is spent on projects that lead to nothing? Many entrepreneurs know this monster that transforms itself in many ways and that swallows resources as much as possible; an uncomfortable, irreverent and ungrateful monster, a monster ready to bias us, trick us and make us fall in love; this monster is called innovation.
These transformations of the monster happen due to a fundamental element: the culture of the company. A company can be perfectly structured, have world-class technological and human resources, processes in accordance with its business model, willingness and vision to generate innovation, however it will not achieve satisfactory results if its culture is not aligned with the methodologies that innovation requires to flourish.
Those who are not familiar with the dynamics of communication and decision within companies will think that if innovation is not achieved, it is a matter of changing the culture. However, reality teaches us that culture is almost immutable and to achieve progress requires a great human effort, a lot of time and, above all, leadership; Kodak and Blackberry are famous examples of failure caused by a lack of culture change.
At this point you may wonder if all is lost: if a company fails to innovate due to its culture, is it destined not to progress and rather to go backwards? Before entering to answer this question, let us first analyze what is the process that generates innovation within a company.
The birth of a new idea
Everything starts with the birth of a new idea that is produced from the depths of a person, from the observation of a problem, a market need or simply a new way of being able to generate value. Richard Ogle, in his book “Smart World” clearly focuses on these processes, explaining that an idea is born from the combination of imagination, intuition and personal insight. A person with a new idea can share it within a group to validate it, discard it, extend it, compare it, improve it and manipulate it, and this is where the “social” process begins between several people who will transform this initial idea into a creative process of “something that It didn’t exist before.”
Subsequently, the internal structure of the company, its metrics, its culture, its level of communication, its financial capacity and finally its willingness to risk will allow these creative ideas to advance towards a materialization; once this happens we will be able to say that the company has managed to introduce innovation in its operation.
The long road from generating an idea to achieving an innovative product or service does not happen by itself. Several methodologies have been developed for a long time to generate innovation, among them the most famous is Design Thinking, which, focusing on the needs of the client, comes to propose the most convenient and timely.
Applying specific tools
This is achieved by applying several specific tools, following a precise path. Another very famous methodology is the CPS (Creative Problem Solver) that uses a structured process that analyzes and clarifies the situation, generates possible ideas that lead to the construction of a solution that can be implemented.
Recently, the new family of ISO 56000 standards has been added to these methodologies, born to guide the construction of a system capable of continuously generating innovation, in the same way that ISO 9000 has managed to consolidate a culture of quality in recent decades. within companies.
Once the process has been explained, let us return to the question about the difficulty of generating innovation when the company culture “does not help”. It is precisely here where the figure of the “innovation professional” appears. The aforementioned methodologies use precise processes in which the participation of those involved is fundamental, however this participation is not natural and almost never spontaneous.
Sometimes, simple envy or personal interests can lead a project to failure, sometimes there is a lack of that motivating push that allows the expected results to be achieved. A person who manages to overcome these difficulties and amalgamate all the elements and who can also “circulate” throughout the company achieving agreements and support, anticipating problems and conflicts, managing himself from the highest levels to the most basic functions, will undoubtedly manage to lead the innovation banner. If we look inside the “job description” of this professional person, we see that it should not necessarily be the most technically prepared.
The skills necessary to fulfill the task of “innovation professional” are multiple and interrelated, the most important is undoubtedly leadership: innovation hardly flourishes with impositions and obligations, the ease of inspiring all the actors in the process is key to create a natural flow of ideas that manage to be captured and elaborated.
It should be noted within the skills required the ease of communication, a high perspicacity and a continuous attention to the vision of the company, as well as to the seemingly unimportant details, allow the person to energize the entire system and obtain consistent and continuous results. the long of the time. Likewise, personal values are of vital importance: ethics and respect for others allow us to achieve the moral authority necessary for this position.
It is not easy to indicate a precise path to develop as an innovation professional, however many of the skills and methodologies mentioned above can be trained and applied to achieve a successful career. Nowadays, many universities offer courses and specializations in these subjects and a person with the proper motivation can grow a lot within a company until they reach the position of CIO (Chief Innovation Officer).
For a board of directors or a human resources department it will not be difficult to identify the most appropriate profiles for this professional position; If the current limitation to achieve innovation is precisely the culture of the company, the best way to begin to change it will be through an “Innovation professional”.