Innovation is one of the toughest things to do in a planned way and in some sense that is the most important thing needed. Large organisations struggle to do that be in they in the private, public or not for profit sector. Small start ups thrive on change and innovation. How do we create new innovation in existing organisations?
Govindarajan and Trimble (requires free HBR registration) writes about creating a new innovation engine in an existing organisation. Is this enough? Of-course not but they are suggesting a organisational structure that create the norms and environment for innovation to flourish.
An innovation initiative is best organized as a partnership between a dedicated team and the group that handles ongoing operations, the performance engine. Although conflicts between partners are inevitable, they can be managed, by following three steps:
Divide the labor. The performance engine should take on only tasks that flow in parallel with ongoing operations—along the same path, at the same pace, and with the same people in charge. All other tasks should be assigned to the dedicated team.
Assemble the dedicated team. Leaders must approach the dedicated team as if they were building a new company— from scratch. Breaking down existing work relationships and creating new ones is an essential task, which outside hires can help expedite.
Mitigate the conflicts. The innovation leader must take a positive and collaborative approach to working with the performance engine and must be supported by an executive senior enough to prioritize the company’s long-term interests and adjudicate contests for resources.