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Five Must-Read Reports for Managing Innovation

Innovation is all about bringing new ideas to light, but as any organization will tell you, this necessary task is certainly easier said than done. Our list of five must-read reports provide organizations with some shocking statistics about innovation management programs as well as concrete, proven ideas to not only foster a culture of innovation, but also, how to accelerate it.

1. Business Transformation and the CIO Role

Harvard Business Review Analytic Services has once again produced a must-read report for every CIO of any organization. The report provides data that confirms what most already know: CIOs have the responsibility of leading any tech-driven business innovation within their organizations, and the failure rate is high. But what this study points out is that large contributor to this failure rate is fear of IT.

The review continues to delve into six key behaviours that CIOs of successfully-run, innovation-driven companies have in common, such as a commitment from the CEO and taking a structured approach to ensure that innovation is successfully implemented without bogging down other processes. As the report concludes, “CIOs have the mandate to innovate” and this report delivers the inspiration that all organizations need to not only innovate, but also to accelerate that innovation to keep up with the rapid IT-driven future we face.

2. McKinsey Irrational Side of Change Management

Originally published in the McKinsey Quarterly in 2009, this review strives to inspire leadership to take some “counter-intuitive” approaches when it comes to approaching new projects and initiatives. The authors Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller state that four basic conditions must be met in order for any change to be necessary:

  1. A Compelling Story: Employees must understand why what is happening is necessary and agree to those terms before engaging in innovation .
  2. Role Modeling: Leadership and colleagues must also be behaving in a new way before employees will adopt new behaviours.
  3. Reinforcing Mechanisms: A whole new set of processes, systems, and incentives must be in place to reward new behaviour.
  4. Capability Building: Employees must possess the skills required to initiate this change.

The review continues to impart nine crucial pieces of insight that explain why initiatives fail, and how organizations can improve their odds to overcome this common hurdles. One common theme that the authors carry on through the book is that change is not simply a process, but is actually incredibly personal and involves how human beings perceive their environment and how they choose to act within it.

3. Aon Hewitt Global Trends in Employee Engagement

Aon Hewitt’s newest annual report for 2014 has delivered some good news to all organizations: there is a notable and steady progression in employee engagement levels on a global scale. The study highlights some key issues faced by organizations, such as millenials being less engaged than the “Baby Boomer” generation, and it also shares that leadership engagement is the highest of all and is most rapidly on the rise, likely due to the mounting pile of evidence that when leadership sets the example, employees will follow.

The study continues to go through a list of six actions that an organization must take in order to keep up with the ever-changing technological, economic, and demographic landscape of business, including understanding talent trends, delivering on compelling Employee Value Propositions (EVPs), and building engaging leaders. The study ultimately stresses that adaptability, agility, relevance, quickness, and incremental value are key in developing an evolving EVP that can turn any company into a high performance organization.

4. Bain Measuring Innovation Performance

In this study by Bain and Company, 450 executives from around the globe with more than $100 million in revenue were surveyed about innovation. While two-thirds of these companies stated that innovation was one of their top three business priorities, less than a quarter felt that they were good at innovation and even fewer believed they were excelling in “breakthrough” innovation.

In light of this information, authors Eric Almquist, Mitchell Leiman, Darrell Rigby, and Alex Roth set out and found companies that were great innovators and produced a list of five “manageable” capability areas, such as Strategy (set compelling and credible objectives), Organization (create an innovative organization and build a collaborative culture), and Scaling (strengthen organizational testing, learning, and scaling abilities). The study points out that while some of these factors are more important than others, all must be met in order for innovation to be possible.

5. Corporate Innovation Is within Reach: Nurturing and Enabling and Entrepreneurial Culture

World renowned consulting firm Accenture released some important numbers in this 2013 study which surveys one thousand individuals in the United States (two hundred executives, two hundred self-employed individuals, and six hundred employees) about entrepreneurialism and its possible benefits. The study also asks the question of whether or not the entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged or discouraged in the workplace.

Across the board, 97 percent of individuals said that they believed that an entrepreneurial attitude is important in business, however only 20 percent believed that their company offered the support necessary to grow and develop growth-promoting ideas. This has a massive stagnating effect on idea growth and innovation, particularly as 49 percent of respondents stated that support and encouragement from management was incredibly important when it came to pursuing these ideas. The study concludes with some key points to help engage employees in innovation, such as nurturing creativity, providing them with the time necessary to build solid plans, and to accept failure as part of the process.

Harness the power of employee ideas.