Every company’s innovation objectives are different. Companies have different sized teams pursuing those objectives. Some focus on developing new technologies or products, and others new business models. And no two companies have the same political environment or cast of characters, when it comes to who should (and shouldn’t) be involved with innovation governance.
But the most common problem that companies encounter, based on more than a dozen interviews with R&D and innovation executives at large ($10B+) public and private companies, can be summed up in five words: “the super-sized committee of no.”
Innovation councils wind up being the size of a marching band, rather than the Beatles. Representatives from every function and business unit get a seat. With more members, focus dissipates and the meetings get tougher to schedule. There are more people who can potentially feel like a piece of their business might be cannibalized — or their influence diminished — if a new idea succeeds. With so many experienced veterans around the table, getting to “yes” is hard, but getting to “no” is a cinch.
How do you move away from the super-sized committee of no, and toward a faster-running, highly responsive model of visibility and reporting up to senior executives and the CEO? It begins by acknowledging that innovation and R&D efforts succeed when they have a clear sense of mission; a governance model that can flex and evolve over time; regular reporting to the governance group, and broad communication to the rest of the organization about what the team is doing and how people can get involved; and an expectation that the governance group will approve, fund, and support projects being tested and rolled out to the business at a regular pace.
Our Q2 2017 report collects the best insights from innovation execs at companies like Johnson & Johnson, ExxonMobil, Thomson Reuters, Kennametal, Brown Brothers Harriman and others, including recommendations from our interviews, a conference call we conducted with InnoLead members, and a survey we fielded in Q1 2017 to understand the current state of governance at 50 large companies.