Driving Innovation in Your Organization – The Four Ps of Innovation

Michael Mitchell is president of a Chicago-based Mitchell Innovation + Research. As a consultant in innovation and market research for top corporations, he has had a lot of experience determining what prevents companies from becoming more effective innovators.

In a recent white paper written for the American Management Association, Mitchell identifies four key conditions a company must put in place to achieve results from their innovation efforts. He calls them “The 4 Ps of Innovation”: Priority, Plan, People and Process.

Priority: As simplistic as it sounds, says Mitchell, your organization has to make innovation a priority. “Organizations fail because innovation, as a true, organized effort, always falls off the to-do list or never makes it on the list at all,” he says. Top management must commit to innovation, “lay out the overall goals and make the commitment to resources they believe it will take to reach those goals.”

Plan: Innovative organizations must set specific goals and determine ways of reaching those goals. A formal innovation plan should be written and shared. The plan should include your specific objectives and the strategies (people, tactics, resources) required to meet them.

People: Your innovation team must be carefully selected and receive the same attention accorded to any senior-level advisory board. In composing your team, don’t choose only “creative types.” Mitchell says that idea people must be balanced by more practical types who know how to achieve even the wildest ideas.

Process: Innovation is not a freewheeling brainstorm session; it’s a disciplined process. You need a step-by-step framework for generating, evaluating, and moving ideas along the development path. Especially important is how your ideas will be nurtured and funded, as well as how you will decide whether each idea as a go or no-go. (See The 90% Rule for lots of ideas on creating a winning process.)

Finally, Mitchell notes your company will also need a culture that supports innovation. You have to lose your fear of failing, and accept that mistakes are part of the learning process. Otherwise, he warns, your embedded culture will likely ensure that “only the safest ideas are put forward and nothing significantly innovative ever gets done.”

No comments