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Innovation Drivers are crucial for sustainable innovation excellence

9 March 2020

Corporations are known for their ability to execute business models efficiently and repeatedly to ultimately scale their business model. Meanwhile startups do not execute known business models but rather search for new ones. They do this by using new toolsets and knowledge, allowing them to create a different methodology and language. This common language stimulates the innovative behaviour throughout the startup.

But you need ambidextrous people to create this common dialogue within an established larger organisation. Ambidextrous, as they must support both employees and management in the creation of an innovative culture next to running the core business. As a result, they often have a unique position in the organisation. These employees are the ones who drive innovation, hence the term: ‘Innovation Drivers’. In recent years larger organisations have started to see the opportunities in this approach and they have started to train internal innovation professionals.

The different roles of Innovation Drivers

Being an ambidextrous organisation requires different processes, governance systems, people, leadership, mind-set and culture. Innovation Drivers aid teams in the execution of opportunity development and business modelling through a variety of activities. They do this by stimulating entrepreneurial behaviour through hackathons or acceleration programmes, by creating social networks for sharing ideas and resources, or by facilitating information diffusion to senior management. In any case, the support from Innovation Drivers allows teams and organisations to become more innovative in their way of operating: the foundation of an innovative culture is laid. It is not about starting all these new initiatives, that often comes easy as people get excited. The true challenge is how to sustain the innovation culture and develop this innovation competence.

To ensure that this innovative culture is not only confined to the executing part of the organisation, Innovation Drivers must also make sure that all opportunities and development of new business models are mapped within the firm’s growth portfolio. This guarantees that these opportunities are linked to the strategic goals and values. Next to this, Innovation Drivers help management to communicate the organisational goals, values and the – often tacit and informal – portfolio management processes.

“Innovation Drivers play a vital role in establishing and maintaining alignment across the top and bottom of the organisation”

Therefore, Innovation Drivers play a vital role in establishing and maintaining alignment across the top and bottom of the organisation. For larger organisations it is key to find these Innovation Drivers, to acknowledge, empower and activate them. The organisations have to make sure that Innovation Drivers have all the necessary knowledge, training and tools to apply to the organisations unique people, processes and culture to have the biggest impact on innovation excellence.

Do you recognize yourself or colleagues as an Innovation Driver? What are challenges you are facing in your organisation to drive sustainable innovation excellence? Let us know and let’s continue the dialogue to explore how we can support you in your role as innovation driver.

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