In our work we observe many barriers to innovation and IP development. The barriers cut across industries and technologies, and they hinder value creation for large and small companies alike.
The innovation and IP leader who is able to overcome the barriers has an opportunity to advance the company’s competitive position with better products and services, faster time to market, more efficient operations, stronger IP, and the resilience necessary to respond to rapidly changing market conditions and critical business problems.
The first step in overcoming your company’s barriers to innovation and IP development is to recognize that the barriers exist and audit the organization to define them. Below are some of the most common and impactful barriers that we observe in our work. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but it touches on issues many innovation and IP leaders can relate to in some way.
This first installment in a series of five posts on this subject explores ideas for overcoming the first barrier listed above – having no clear direction. We will explore the other barriers in future posts.
Establishing a clear direction for innovation and IP creation starts with consensus on an overall corporate strategy that defines the vision, specific business goals, and tactical actions that serve the vision and goals. Unfortunately, Executive and Board level consensus on the strategy is not enough. Effective communication of the strategy to your innovators in language they can understand is required to provide the direction needed align their activities in ways that serve the strategy.
How can you communicate clear direction for your innovators?
First, meet with your executives and top managers to define a succinct list of key business issues and opportunities for the company. We have found that formatting the business issues as high-level “how to” problem statements can help translate the issues into focus areas that your inventors and innovators can tackle.
Then, create a graphical landscape that visually represents that same list of business issues. This provides the ultimate tool to guide your innovators and channel their focus to create more relevant ideas, solutions, and IP. The graphical landscape also offers a framework for mapping and communicating new intellectual assets directly back to executives to inform their decision-making and investment. In that sense, the landscape provides a bidirectional communication tool that connects innovation and IP directly to strategy.
But the next question is how to measure the strength of that connection and the value created as a result?