The Key to Great Corporate Innovation

Corporate innovation is a complicated issue. On the one hand, every company wants and needs to be innovative. On the other, there are so many different ways in which corporations may do it and there is definitely bullet-proof no one-size-fits-all model. A few years back at CREATORS, we decided to create a comprehensive guide for all innovation champions out there who want to do corporate innovation right. The result is a 40+ page report with best practices, tips and thoughts not only about the Corporate Innovation models, but also KPIs and insights into Fortune 500 dilemmas. Enjoy!

Your FREE COPY of the report is available HERE.

What did we do?

Our report is not intended to provide new scientific research findings, nor to determine a one-size-fits-all solution for the corporate innovation world. The goal is to give our readers a tool of practical relevance. In other words, a compass to navigate through the jungle of corporate innovation practices. By showcasing different industry activities, program models and best practices within corporations, we want to inspire decision makers to improve, build and implement great innovation programs. Lastly, this report will enable companies to find their very own successful path through the innovation jungle.

The report is based on four different source types:

  1. Information regarding 168 corporate innovation programs
  2. Qualitative interviews with 10+ leading innovation experts
  3. Analytical data from Fortune 500 corporate executives gathered through our anonymous survey
  4. External literature.

The right approach to corporate innovation

The report is structured in three chapters, following the lean launchpad methodology of Build-Measure-Learn.

Chapter 1. BUILD is the core of this study. We introduce the general circumstances and preconditions in which corporate innovation programs are usually developed. This first part of our report introduces characteristics, patterns and differences between internal, external and mixed corporate innovation programs in leading global companies. The “Build” part is a colorful mix of data insights from 168 different programs, case studies and quotes from innovation experts and survey participants.

Chapter 2. MEASURE highlights why and how corporate innovation needs to be quantified and introduces the most pressing challenges in measuring the output of innovation programs. It is mainly based on our survey findings, expert interviews and external sources suggested by our fellow experts.

Chapter 3. LEARN gives a quick overview of the common challenges for individual and organizational learning and describes some of the ways to make corporate innovation programs sustainable and more successful. It further highlights the potential of data in the learning process in order to create a feedback loop to constantly improve corporate innovation efforts. Our findings in this part are based on survey answers, expert interviews and external sources.

With this Build-Measure-Learn framework, we hope to provide you with a benchmark and source of inspiration to manage your existing and future corporate innovation activities.

Selected Key Findings

Internal Innovation Programs

  1. Internal innovation programs are usually the first step in a corporate innovation journey. Once a company is more mature in its innovation efforts, it moves on to external innovation projects in order to complement in-house innovation
  2. The majority of corporations develop unstructured innovation programs in order to foster innovation in-house, even though structured innovation is proven to be more effective.
  3. Only 25% of internal innovation programs offer access to higher management or other experts employed by a company. Also, only 25% of the mapped programs offer a product validation process in cooperation with enterprise customers. Finally, mentoring is only practiced in 45% of internal programs, although almost 75% of external corporate programs claim to offer it.

External Innovation Programs

  1. Most external innovation programs worldwide are structured and last — on average — for four months. They usually follow a well-known model which becomes an industry standard (e.g., a corporate accelerator, incubator, VC arm activity, etc.).
  2. There is a valid question about the value created by corporate programs and accelerators for early stage startups, as more accelerators are being created purely for PR and visibility purposes, or as a way for a corporation to “stay informed”, while simultaneously creating very little value for accelerated startups. Similarly, such corporate startups may provide less value and are therefore not necessarily the right partners to achieve the program’s goals. In the end, successful programs should begin at a point where the corporation can add needed value for the external innovators, and in return these should provide a company with a high-potential partnership.
  3. In terms of benefits offered to startups, only 15% of these programs offer access to the company’s management and just 30% guarantee access to corporate employees.

Selected Lessons Learned

Corporations have the potential to lead innovation in their industries provided they follow simple yet non-negotiable rules:

  • The basis for all corporate innovation activities should be well-defined goals in line with the overall innovation strategy of a company. One activity is not enough to cover all the possible goals — each internal and external innovation program should have a pre-defined set of objectives.
  • Innovation should not only be the task of the Innovation Department — the whole organization needs to be tasked with innovative activities and taught practical innovation tools and methods. Every department should be given responsibility for fostering innovative processes.
  • Employees need a safe space to fail. They need to be encouraged to take responsibility and not be punished if risky projects are not successful. At the same time, relative success and failure should be specified and KPIs should be introduced in order to measure each project’s impact.
  • Innovation metrics are an important tool to enable learning from all the activities introduced by an organization. The metrics do not have to be rigid — they also should be a part of the learning process.

At CREATORS, every single day it is our task to enable corporations and entrepreneurs to work together efficiently. We believe that by sharing these lessons from each perspective, we will see more successful, impact-driven projects that are truly valuable for all stakeholders involved. So let’s dig in and create great things together!

Your FREE COPY of the report is available HERE.

This article originally appeared on CREATORS Blog. 

About the Author
Monika Rozalska-Lilo has co-created and until recently served as the CEO of CREATORS, an innovation lab based in Tel Aviv that supports organizations in developing and improving innovation practices. Monika’s expertise includes corporate innovation, startup ecosystems, ideation methodologies and building & facilitating innovation programs. Before CREATORS, Monika served as Deputy Director of TheHive by Gvahim, a startup accelerator program for international teams in Israel.
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