Governance is key to company-wide innovation

A lot of organizations we work with today recognize the innovation rhythm and the difference between searching and executing. The rhythm of innovation is different and less linear than that of other corporate processes. Innovation is a search for a business model that we do not know will work yet, whereas corporates are used to execute on a model that is already proven. The necessity to start with a framework and some form of process or unique governance for this innovation, however, is almost always looked upon as being counterintuitive.

Innovation is something that needs free reign, something you cannot control or measure so why do we need a new process. It is an argument I frequently encounter. Although we agree with the fact that innovation is not something you can control, it is also not true that it needs to live in a void.

Corporates have processes ingrained in them. Decisions are made by processes and governance that have long been determined and out there. Sometimes we do not even realize anymore that these processes throughout the company define culture and way of working. It is what is needed to scale certain ideas and agreements across a company. Without it, how would people know what decisions to make and why? Purposely not putting a process or governance in place will result in people interpreting how to deal with innovation on their own. Most will look to other processes or governances in place. Reverting back to a process or governance that might not be relevant is always easier than not knowing how to deal with something. Not creating a common understanding of innovation will create a void that will only lead to confusion and misunderstanding. Voids are not possible within an organization. Automatically, existing governance will fill the space even if it is not suited for the occasion.

There needs to be a common understanding of not only why a company is innovating in certain areas, but also on how to deal with this and with what form of governance, thus creating clarity rather than confusion. Ensuring a sustainable environment for innovation throughout the company, with a clear framework and common governance. Aligning this with the business strategy will make it possible to effectively scale innovation across the entire organization.

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