There are four key pillars for creating an enterprise-wide innovation. The idea is that it’s comprehensive. You can’t have a sustainable practice for innovation without addressing each of the pillars.

  1. Management mandate —Needs to be clear, loud, broad, bold and spoken continuously. It also should be modeled by leadership.

    Problems: Mandates don’t work when they’re only given lip service, i.e. when you see it on the web site but there’s nothing behind it.

    Harmful mandates: Secret mandates (when leadership talks about mandates but doesn’t communicate them to anybody else); and demotivating mandates (when there’s a      message to innovate or else everybody is out of a job).

  1. Dedicated infrastructure — Always mirrors the seriousness of the mandate. If there are a lot of resources invested in supporting the mandate, then it’s serious. If no resources are invested in supporting the mandate then it’s lip service. You can have too few resources and metrics that limit innovation to only incremental. Metrics in the infrastructure need to inspire and enable incremental and breakthrough innovations.

  1. Proprietary process — Needs to reflect the unique business and assets of the company, and it needs to evolve over time. It’s not a static process, it’s a learning process. One size does not fit all.

  1. Supportive culture — It’s friendly to ideas ranging from incremental to transformational. Supportive culture limits corporate gravity, contains the immune system, and it fights corporate myopia. You’re in trouble if ideas only travel from the top down — they need to travel in every direction.

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