What Are The Six Traits of Highly Innovative Organizations?

What Are The Six Traits of Highly Innovative Organizations?
By: Rob Hoehn

I love meeting innovators. You meet all types: some of them are blue sky thinkers, some of them are feasibility buffs, some of them are incredible networkers and presenters, and some of them are shy and fascinatingly deep thinkers.

Organizations are similar to individual innovators – some of them have a few of the key qualities necessary to create change and some of them are super strong in one area, but not across the board. The best ones, it turns out, have talent in six key areas and therefore can deliver on innovation and report higher financial performance.

Our partner InnovationOne is a consultancy that provides a scientifically developed assessment to measure, benchmark, and improve innovation culture and capability at any organization. After twenty years of research (and confirmed in their 2020 report with The Conference Board, “Useful and Emerging Practices of Highly Innovative Organizations in the Digital Era”) they have discovered that these six traits are fundamental for innovative companies. These traits are:

  • Executive embrace of innovation. Without leadership support, it is highly unlikely that ideas will progress, no matter how many hackathons you run.
  • Employee engagement in innovation. Although small teams of smart thinkers have driven innovation for centuries, we are now able to engage far greater and far more diverse groups in innovation – that is why organizations must engage their workforce in the process.
  • A clear innovation process. If no one knows what to do with an idea or how to develop idea, it will likely always stay an idea and never turn into innovation.
  • An innovation knowledge management system. This can be a number of things: innovation management software, facilitated workshops, presentations from external experts and more. But if you don’t have a way that you’re capturing creativity, then it’s very likely you won’t be able to act on it.
  • Resource investment. The number one barrier to a great idea seeing the light of day is lack of time and resources. The best programs will dedicate budget and teams to ensure ideas make it through.
  • Systems to encourage innovation. Many companies actually reward the status quo and predictable results. Innovative companies must incentivize big risks and even failure if it results in lessons learned.

But how do you assess whether or not your leaders are embracing innovation? How do you know if your innovation process is clear? InnovationOne has developed a two-minute, six-question assessment to help you understand where your strengths are.

Take the six-question assessment to better understand the state of innovation across industries and join us on May 12th to find out the results across all sectors and segments. 

About the Author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

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