Looking ahead to the Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit (I&GL), we wanted to start discussion now about the biggest challenges many of you face.  One that stands out is alignment — how do you get everyone on the same page?

CIMdata recently conducted research with a group of chief innovation executives from Electrolux, Givaudan, GOJO Industries, Henkel, Honeywell, Procter & Gamble, and Sanofi.  For these executives, innovation alignment is a combination of strategy and tactics that generate new business value.  It means being “clear about where you want to grow, where you want to go, and how you want to get there.”

Ideally, short-term objectives (product improvements, line extensions, etc.) are balanced with the longer term horizon (new technologies, new markets, new business models).  Strategic and tactical roadmaps are harmonized. Portfolio choices generate measurable payback.  Leaders think beyond their own business and make decisions based on what’s best for the enterprise.

The reality?

As one executive put it, “people have become so focused on the internal processes, workflows, and administrative hurdles that they forget their primary mission is R&D, which is to be connected with innovation networks and what is going on their scientific field.”

Another said there are pockets of innovation but no ‘single source of truth,’ making portfolio management a challenge. Other struggles include poor visibility into financial commitments, unclear communication, and fragmented processes.

So, what approaches are helping?

  1. To drive change, first identify executive champions with the right qualities
  2. Train people through a network of innovation ambassadors – develop capabilities
  3. Establish governance structures and processes to help align on goals
  4. Bring in digital solutions that are agile and visual to support faster decisions
  5. Prioritize openness, configurability, flexibility, and adaptability
  6. Look for features that can connect to best-in-class functionality spanning research, design, sourcing, manufacturing, sales, marketing, service, etc.

Organizations that have addressed both cultural and digital capabilities are better aligned than those that have not. They are also achieving better results faster.

To learn more, download Enterprise Innovation Management: Solutions Landscape – Connecting the Dots.  Suna Polat, co-author of this study, will share more about the findings and answer your questions at the I&GL Summit on April 26.