What does it take to create a successful innovation culture?

Outpacing competitors requires constant innovation, but it takes more than ideas. We’ve talked to business leaders in a wide range of industries and distilled the best practices necessary to turn ideas into business value:

• Don’t limit thinking. Innovations may be large or small. They may be for new or enhanced products, new business models, internal improvements in quality and productivity, or reductions in environmental impact.
• Great ideas can come from anywhere. Encourage input from all levels of the organization and listen to your customer’s voice.
• Base ideas on reality. Get to the real root causes of problems rather than treating symptoms, and get a cross-functional perspective.
• Assess value. How does an idea add value for customers, shareholders, and employees?
• Understand risk. A portfolio approach allows you to cut losses and focus on the most promising projects.
• Commit to the idea. Provide the resources, collaboration tools, and organizational commitment to successfully execute and scale the idea.
• Don’t execute in a vacuum. Integrate innovations into product and operational strategies.
• Sustain innovation. Quantify the results and reward success. Tolerate failures but don’t repeat the same mistakes. Accenture found that 60% of organizations don’t learn from their mistakes.
• Eliminate the dead wood. Retiring obsolete products and processes frees up resources for innovation.

Innovation creates value by increasing competitive advantage, differentiating products, opening up new markets, and handling disruption. It should be integral to any successful organization.

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