How To Know If Organizations Are Truly Dedicated To Innovation

Added on by Alexander Osterwalder.

Companies have incubators, accelerators, or other programs to signal that they are into innovation. A lot of the time, it’s just innovation theater. The money and the activities might be there, but there’s no real power behind it. If your company is doing the following, then they’re truly dedicated to innovation.

A CEO truly dedicated to innovation might have a schedule that looks like this.

A CEO truly dedicated to innovation might have a schedule that looks like this.

This post is an excerpt from my interview with Forbes. Read the whole conversation here.

1. Ability to experiment & fail: The first piece of evidence that a company is actually dedicated to innovation is that you can experiment and fail within that company. If you can’t fail, innovation can’t happen. If an organization has established KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that prevent failure, no one in the organization is going to take a risk because no one wants to kill his or her career.

2. CEO Participation: The second piece of evidence is how much time the CEO spends on innovation. Any CEO that isn’t spending one to two days per week on innovation doesn’t care about innovation. This means the CEO is not just spending time on products that are making money today, and not just customers who are paying the bills today, but really spending face time with his or her innovation teams and going out to talk to potential customers and scouting technologies to understand where the world is going. The CEO always defines the long-term direction, so if the person defining the long-term direction doesn’t understand where the world is going, how are your innovation teams going to stand a chance?