Creativity and Innovation Evaluation

As I have learned and experienced, creativity and innovation are important to every organization. Throughout the past twenty years I has seen great innovations coming from the unlikeliest places. With project management, we have learned that no project is ever run the same way as the last one, so being innovative and an entrepreneur in that space is important. With the agile framework becoming more prevalent, innovation and entrepreneurship plays an even larger role.

Innovation

In today’s global market, innovation is vital to the survival of every organization that plays in that space. In order to maintain their place in the market, organizations need to be innovative as they look for new ways to develop or implement. A term that was developed by Henry Chesbrough, open innovation, just happens to be one of the primary approaches that organizations embrace. Open innovation makes the assumption that organizations have the ability to access external ideas, as well as internal ones, and that they should use these ideas as well. It also refers to methods that are collaborative in nature, that when applied make the implication that payment of license fees between organizations for intellectual property occur. Ultimately, open innovation is the process of when internal and external knowledge flow in order to push innovation forward within an organization in an effort to allow the development of the markets to externally make use of innovations (Hisrich & Kearney, 2014).

Innovation can also take many forms from developing new products or services, to developing the ways the products are manufactured or identifying new suppliers, markets, and even organizational strategies. According to Innovation Management, there have been various frameworks used in an effort to look at the types of innovation. In doing so, they generally consider the source of the innovation based on past successes as well as attempts to identify a direction to look for new future innovations. The variety in the types of innovation also demonstrate that the benefit is not just limited to product development. During the measurement of innovation, categorization can help through the allowance of performance comparison and evidence that is based on choices which can then guide where the improvements or advances could potentially give the highest return for any specific investment this is becoming known as the Return on Innovation. In a book written by Geoffrey A. Moore, innovation is viewed as being within the category lifecycle, with the category playing the role of the product or service term. These innovation types are listed as disruptive, application, product, platform, line extension, enhancement, marketing, experiential, value engineering, integration, process, value migration, organic, and acquisition  (Innovation Management, n.d.).

It is also suggested that there are different types based on industry patterns. These put innovation within the business model, networking, enabling the process, core process, product performance, product system, service and channel, brand, and finally the experience of the customer. When it comes to the change impact or scope there are also common types such as incremental innovation, radical or breakthrough, and transformational or disruptive innovation. In the same way, another approach looks at the impact to the current business and categorizes them as cannibalization, market creation, and competitor disruption. Examples of the types of innovation that can be identified by the innovation source include manufacturer innovation and end user or open market innovation (Innovation Management, n.d.).

One of the keys to understanding innovation is that it does not necessarily mean that it is entirely new or completely unfamiliar to an organization, but it does need to involve change that is identifiable. The process behind innovation is more than just coming up with a good idea. Although the creative thinking is primary and vital to the development innovation is a process that is dynamic which involves structural as well as social conditions. The steps that are within the innovation process include identifying the opportunities in generating the ideas, analysis of the relevant facts and areas, based on the analysis developing the insights required, seeking out connections and creative leaps, conceptual will development an alternative evaluation, selecting the past and planning for implementation, and finally carrying out the implementation (Hisrich & Kearney, 2014).

The steps required in the innovation process provide a path to the identification of where the organization currently is. Considering the first step is the process of generating the ideas in identifying opportunities I would look at the ways that the organization invites the employees to provide ideas and opportunities to leadership. Once this information is gathered the analysis would begin in all of the relevant areas and facts. If there is a venue in place for innovation I would then look at how the organization looks to develop the insight. How they look for the connections are creative leaps, what they do to develop the concepts and do alternative evaluations, and how they plan and complete the implementation. A lot of the steps that I would take to identify the current state would have the base of communication through multiple venues such as company notices, face-to-face meetings, town halls, surveys, and even one-on-one meetings. In this role, the primary objective would be to identify whether ideas are welcomed, and if ideas are provided the type of action that the organization currently takes on them.

Entrepreneurship

The world today is much different from the world even a short 20 years ago. Due to the ever-changing environment that organizations play in, and the competitive nature within the environment, this can also be seen as increasing risk, and ability that is limited to forecast, customer demands that are more diverse and often higher expectations. When it comes to the external environment that can cause an impact on an organization one must consider political, economic, social, regulatory and legal, technological, competition, supplier network, and even the environments of the customers themselves. For any organization remaining competitive should be a core part of their strategy and even infused within the company culture itself (Hisrich & Kearney, 2014).

At the very core of corporate entrepreneurship should be innovation. Innovation and entrepreneurship are glued together and form a bond that is inseparable and can be seen as being responsible for the drive behind taking calculated and potentially beneficial risks. Corporate entrepreneurship may even have the ability to alter the balance of industry competition as well as the creation of completely new areas of industry (May, n.d.).

When you look at the strategic analysis for innovation and entrepreneurial infusion, it involves four primary areas including the external environment, the entrepreneurial climate, the entrepreneurial behavior, and finally the customer and stakeholder focus areas. One of the areas that has been seen as holding a lot of influence on the existence and effectiveness of the process of innovation and entrepreneurial activities itself is the external environment. The external environment has the ability to impact the organization’s ability to define or identify and create opportunities and later even on how or whether they can develop those opportunities that would help hold a competitive advantage. When you look at the entrepreneurial climate it must be supported as well as facilitated by all management, as well as promote the entrepreneurial actions, and then implement these actions through the use of the organizations core competencies. The entrepreneurial behavior must be in place for an organization to even consider improving performance and the different areas of the organization. Ultimately, in order for an organization to benefit from any innovation or entrepreneurial activities it must have a focus on what is important to the customers and the stakeholders. The organization needs to be able to know and understand the needs of their customers as it relates to the products and services that they provide. Without top management support throughout the organization the innovative and entrepreneurial process could come to an end. For an organization to be truly an entrepreneurial organization the innovation and entrepreneurship process should play a key role within their call culture (Hisrich & Kearney, 2014).

Dependent upon the source, the process that is involved in entrepreneurship can vary. The Timmons Model shows three primary categories:  the resources, the opportunity, and the team. Within these categories are inputs such as communication, creativity and leadership, all of which encompass ambiguity, fits and gaps, exogenous forces, uncertainty and capital market context (Bygrave, D’Heilly, McMullen, & Taylor, 1997). This can be seen in Image 1.

Image 1

Image courtesy of (Bygrave, D’Heilly, McMullen, & Taylor, 1997).

When it comes to identifying the process, I find the Timmons model the easiest to follow for organizations new to the idea of entrepreneurship within their organization.

For me to identify where the organization is within the simulation as it relates to entrepreneurship, I find myself going back to the analysis that would need to be completed on innovation as that plays a vital role to the entrepreneurship process. Along with that, I would go to the questions that were asked of leaders of organizations who have successfully adopted the entrepreneurial spirit. These questions would include how the incentive or rewards systems were set up; the attitudes towards risk; if the organization is hiring and training their employees and whether that needs to change; and how often the organization examines the systems, structures, and processes (DeSimone, Hatsopoulos, O’Brien, Harris, & Holt, 1995).

The same format would be used to gather this data which would include communication through multiple venues such as company notices, face-to-face meetings, town halls, surveys, and even one-on-one meetings. It would also look at any internal policies as it relates to the support of incentives and rewards.

Evaluation

Any surveys completed would follow a simplistic 5-point rating system that would include completely disagree, somewhat disagree, neutral, somewhat agree, or completely agree. The responses would be compiled into a systematic matrix where the ratings could easily identify where the organization is doing well, and more importantly where the organization would need to improve. A high-level example of what this matrix may look like is shown in Image 2 based on questions that involve both innovation and entrepreneurship.

Image 2

Along with the surveys, research would be completed on whether the internal processes were in place to support innovation and entrepreneurship. This research would then be aligned with the survey responses to see if the process is what is stopping the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit within the organization. With this evaluation completed, it would provide  the information needed to formalize a plan to improve and/or implement the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit within the organization.

Summary

I have had the pleasure of working in an organization that embraced innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit where some of the best ideas came from the employees that were located out in the field. Working in an organization like that for sixteen years, I have seen and experienced the benefit of this collaborative and growth oriented environment. Unfortunately, I have also had the displeasure of working in an organization that did not welcome innovation or the entrepreneurial spirit. This position was only five years in length, and taught me a lot about how not being welcoming of new ideas can destroy an organization.

With the ever-changing world that organizations operate in today, it is difficult for me to understand why one would not welcome new ideas, as personally I am always looking at the big picture and the future of things to come.

References

Bygrave, W., D’Heilly, D., McMullen, M., & Taylor, N. (1997). Toward a Not-For-Profit Analytical Framework. Retrieved July 29, 2017, from Babson College: https://fusionmx.babson.edu/entrep/fer/papers96/bygrave/image1.gif

DeSimone, L. D., Hatsopoulos, G. N., O’Brien, W. F., Harris, B., & Holt, C. P. (1995). How Can Big Companies Keep the Entrepeneurial Spirit Alive? Retrieved July 29, 2017, from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/1995/11/how-can-big-companies-keep-the-entrepreneurial-spirit-alive

Hisrich, R. D., & Kearney, C. (2014). Managing Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Innovation Management. (n.d.). Types of Innovation – Choosing Where to Innovate. Retrieved July 29, 2017, from Innovation Management: http://www.innovation-management.org/types-of-innovation.html

May, R. (n.d.). Corporate Entrepreneurship and its Importance in Large Companies. Retrieved July 28, 2017, from Business Dictionary: http://www.businessdictionary.com/article/726/corporate-entrepreneurship-and-its-importance-in-large-companies/

 

 

 

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Alyce Reopelle

Alyce Reopelle

Author, Speaker, Project / Program / PMO Thought Leader

Over 20 years project management experience with a passion for helping organizations grow their PMO, their project managers, and their teams.  My passion has taken me to the pursuit of a Doctor of Education, as I enjoy seeing the proverbial light bulb come on.  I am a believer in continuous growth and improvement, and believe that an organizations culture and environment is what drives the growth of PMOs and all areas, and not the other way around.

Alyce is available to speak at conferences, organizational events, organizational training opportunities and more.  Contact Alyce via her website at https://alycereopelle.pmfortoday.com  - CLICK HERE

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