one puzzle piece too small to match others

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In a world full of new frameworks and methodologies to corporate innovation, it is imperative the corporate innovator curates the best mix of approaches for their company.

Leveraging best practices is common in companies and you should always continue to be aware of successful approaches to innovation at other organizations. That said, it is critical you adapt the process to what makes sense to your company and the environment you are facing. This may be customizing an established methodology or perhaps mixing different approaches to innovation, but making your company’s innovation process unique to your company is necessary for success.

When you design an innovation process for your company, you need to make sure you adjust for these critical variables:

Culture

Do you have an analytical culture or creative? Is your talent primarily from the industry or is it more diverse? What is the execution pace and rigor? Is it a culture that challenges or embraces new ideas? All these attributes within a culture will have a significant impact on how you design, implement and deploy innovation processes within your company.

Management Philosophy

Knowing how your senior leadership thinks about innovation is important to frame your process. Are they expecting transformational or incremental innovation? Is the CEO or someone else in the C-Suite driving this? These questions are critical to understanding management philosophy and knowing how much governance the leadership team will deploy on this program. Your management team will also dictate the types of metrics you need to deploy to measure progress and success.

Organization and Talent

How you are organized for innovation has a big influence on how you design your innovation process. Do you have a dedicated team focused on innovation or is the process strictly a tool for business units to leverage? Do you have committed process owners to remove obstacles? Does your process rely on skills that may not exist within the organization?

Funding Mechanisms

Every company has a distinct way they approach funding initiatives and the pace of these investments. Is your company providing a distinct funding process for your innovation program or do you follow the standard process within the company? Is your process designed to account for the requirements to initiate funding? Does the innovation process factor in the timing needed to secure investment (ie. quarterly vs. ad-hoc cycles)?

These questions are just a sampling of what you need to understand to design and implement a comprehensive innovation process and program in your company. While corporate innovators should always work at making change within their company, you also need to understand what you control and what you need to influence when implementing a sustainable innovation process. Always learn and understand what others are doing and integrate it into your company. The key is integration requires you to adapt and shape your process to the unique behaviors of your company. Embrace what is unique to your organization and figure out how to have your innovation process leverage the distinct behaviors of your company.

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Arguably one of the most knowledgeable intrapreneurs around, Alex Gonzalez has helped lead transformative innovation and build growth processes for the likes of GE and Equifax, among many others. Today he’s the founder and managing director at Creative Growth Ventures, where he splits his time advising, training and consulting with executives, corporate innovation teams and high-growth startups.