If your organization is not already prioritizing innovation, 2016 is the right time to put it on top of your agenda.
Innovation is often born from a workplace’s ability to encourage feedback and ideas from employees from all departments. We never know what ideas people with different skills and talents can come up with. There are a number of companies who have started developing corporate innovation environments within their premises to enable this. In these, CEOs and other decision makers can listen more carefully to what their employees are saying, either in the form of feedback or a pitch. Providing creative freedom to the team can benefit enterprises and take them to a different level.
We can't say what exactly has triggered this wave of corporate innovation in the past couple of years. Among the reasons might be a fear of not being up to date with recent trends. It may also be greed and a way of using the workforce as a substitution for research and development spending. Most of the time though, companies understand they need both investment and the workforce to achieve real innovation, and improving the entire team's creative thinking they can help them to perform as an innovation accelerator.
There are already a number of examples of huge successes that corporate innovation has managed to achieve. Among these success stories is LinkedIn, which launched its [in]cubator in 2012. Once a quarter, any employee can come up with an idea, create a team, and pitch it to the executives. If the idea turns out to have potential, it is then approved and the team is given up to 3 months to develop their gem and turn it to an actual product or service. The ideas can be anything from internal tools and HR programs, through to significant technology improvements.
AT&T has introduced a similar [in]cubator program called AT&T Foundry, although apart from encouraging creativity, it sets goals for decreasing the timespan for innovative projects to accelerate processes for generating and launching new products. For example, it usually takes approximately 2 years for the company to launch a new product or service, if we are talking from pitch stage to launch date. AT&T Foundry has invested $100 million in several centers where employees are given the opportunity to experiment with pretty much anything they want. By practicing this, the company is aiming to shorten the innovation cycle to under 6 months which is, let's be honest, very impressive. One of the products they brought to life using that method was Cascade. It is a service which allows you to receive text messages from any connected car, home automation and security solutions, and many more.
It would be wrong to presume that corporate innovation only applies to big corporations. The global startup community is growing, which means that it's important to collaborate with the entrepreneurs closely. Big fish and young talents can benefit from each other by creating an innovative corporate space. Startups can get an advantage of being noticed by big players. Regarding large companies, they can anticipate trends and embrace new models. This approach is called coopetition and in order to apply it successfully, companies must create a fluid and seamless process for capitalizing on insights gained.