Four Pillars of Innovation: Part II – The Indestructible Infrastructure

Blog Post Innovation that Creates New Value

In our previous discussion, we considered the question, “How can you create and sustain growth through innovation when you need to balance the needs of today with the aspirations and vision of tomorrow?” We came to the conclusion that your management mandate — a critical first step — must answer two essential questions: How is innovation defined and how will you know if it is successful?

But what about the structures – people, resources, and processes — that are needed to enroll employees in a long-term vision when short-term objectives must still be accomplished? To address this challenge, companies must design and implement a dedicated infrastructure to protect and facilitate their strategy innovation.

Structuring the Indestructible

As defined, your dedicated infrastructure is the configuration that will enable innovation to happen. One example of a company with strong, dedicated infrastructure is Google.

In 2005, Google reinvented the classic 70/20/10 Model to meet their specific needs. Their infrastructure dictates that 70 percent of employee time be dedicated to core business tasks; 20 percent to projects related to the core business, and 10 percent to projects unrelated to the core business. Google Apps — which offers customizable versions of several Google products — was born out of this very system.

Means and Measures

While there’s no “one-way” to design your dedicated infrastructure, there’s also not a singular way to measure its success. Depending on your business model, the means and metrics of gauging effectiveness must be in accordance with the specificity of your innovation undertaking.

That said, your infrastructure must include a system for protecting your resources from the short-term KPIs that often threaten big picture ideas, especially when the goals of an innovation initiative are not immediately measurable within the standard ROI criteria.

Proof Positive

In your experience, what structures work in your organization to encourage and protect innovation endeavors? Additionally, by what methods do you assemble and implement your dedicated infrastructure?

Tell us in the comments below, and in our next discussion, we’ll explore why an organization’s ability to design and implement a propriety process for innovation, constructed within the dedicated infrastructure, is vital to ensuring a mandate is successful.

 

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