When the word 'innovation' comes to mind, most think of spontaneity, where creative individuals come up with inventive ideas to help solve their organisation's problems. To say innovation can't operate in a structured environment isn't true however, many of the world's most innovative companies schedule meetings that allow innovation attempts to be consistently measured and redefined, not just when sales are declining.
Whilst innovation can be found in numerous pockets throughout an organisation and can be fostered in a variety of different ways, having a process whereby resources can be attributed to specific innovation efforts is important.
Leading innovation is difficult and requires expertise. Many companies want to innovate but only a smaller proportion actually have the ability to do so.
Many companies have been guilty of giving their innovators a general outline of what they want, something which is often unclear and difficult to convey. Due to this, it's beneficial for companies to actually tell their team what they don't want - this gives the team far more freedom to be creative, whilst also guaranteeing for the board that they aren't going to be greeted with a project that's inappropriate.
In research and development, the management of patents is essential as ideas are often borne from the existence of previous innovations, so it's essential that you have legal protection to safeguard your ideas. The rise of patent trolls have only gone to increase this urgency even further.
It's also recommend that innovation teams are planned with diversity in mind. The best ideas come from a diverse group of individuals whose variation allows for a wide range of ideas to be thrown around a room. Getting these people together must be planned and also viewed as a priority by recruitment teams.
Perhaps the most aspect in terms of innovation structure is that those who are successful should be rewarded when they come up with ideas that have a direct impact a company's operations. If someone continually goes unnoticed their mindset and creativity are likely to come to a standstill, which could be the difference between a company coming up with a groundbreaking idea and not.
It's true to say that companies cannot thrust their workers into an inflexible environment when they're trying to come up with innovative ideas. This doesn't mean however that companies have to lose control of their innovation teams, in fact to do so is to create an environment where the most creative will have their ideas continually belittled.
The message is that companies should innovate, but innovate within a structure. Reward your workers and keep your teams as diverse as possible.