Before you can assess your organization’s innovation maturity, you have to ask and answer the question, “What does innovation mean to us?”
Unless your organization has deliberately built a culture of innovation throughout, answers to that question will vary – perhaps widely – among those you ask.
There are many different innovation maturity models in use, and no single one is right for every organization. However, every organization can learn key characteristics of higher levels of innovation maturity, and every organization can gather what they need and lay out a plan for improving their innovation maturity level.
Innovation Management’s Innovation Maturity Benchmarks
Innovation Management lists benchmarks for three levels of innovation maturity:
- External awareness that innovation is valuable. Participation in innovation is mostly opportunistic rather than planned.
- Full integration of partnerships into innovation strategy. These organizations have a defined operation model for innovation, with processes for selecting and managing external innovation partnerships.
- Orchestration of innovation ecosystem. Such organizations build innovation partnerships into networked “ecosystems” of talent for sharing and collaborating innovatively.
They also suggest asking some key questions to determine if it’s time to work on improving the level of innovation maturity in your organization:
- At what level of maturity is the organization now, and what benchmarks do we have to back that up?
- What level of innovation maturity is necessary to be a strong competitor in our industry?
- How can we move efficiently and effectively from where we are now to where we need to be?
Planview’s Framework for Measuring Innovation Maturity
Portfolio and resource management company Planview spells out five levels of innovation maturity:
- Level 1: Some process and operational innovation takes place, but the market is mature and primarily driven by existing products and minor extensions to existing product lines. Conservative growth is the strategy.
- Level 2: Innovation takes place, but many innovations are the result of being in “reaction mode” rather than deliberately seeking innovation. Leadership is coming around to the idea of investing in innovation, though mostly it is through safe bets and occasional calculated risks.
- Level 3: The organization seeks innovation more proactively, but the innovation strategy and metrics are not clearly defined. Leadership, however, is actively investing in the processes and tools needed to make innovation operational.
- Level 4: The innovation strategy is emerging, and the organization is working on tying it to strategic growth objectives. Innovation efforts are producing results, but as yet innovation is not fully embedded in the corporate culture.
- Level 5: Innovation has been operationalized with formal tools and defined processes. Innovation is embedded in the organization across all functions, and the organization has a well-balanced innovation portfolio that yields positive revenue growth.
Planview suggests getting the most of your level of innovation maturity and working toward the next level by doing these things:
- Be objective in assessing your current level of innovation maturity, neither over- or understating it.
- Work on developing an organizational culture in which innovation is embedded at all levels.
- Determine where your next level of innovation maturity is and develop a clear direction and strategy for how to get there.
Faking Innovation Maturity Gets You Nowhere
You can’t fake innovation maturity. Yes, there are business scenarios where “fake it till you make it” works, but this is not one of them. If your project pipeline is full of safe bets, and if your company addresses innovation by simply saying, “Innovation is everyone’s job,” then your organization may be trying to fake innovation and won’t enjoy the benefits of a mature innovation culture.
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