A 2012 study by the Harvard Business Review surfaced several interesting findings about the practice of innovation for the enterprise, including the innovation ambition matrix, which details how “firms that excel at total innovation management simultaneously invest at three levels of ambition, carefully managing the balance among them.”

To read more about the Harvard Business Review study please click here.

Those three levels are:

  • Core: When organizations are refining their existing offering.
  • Adjacent: When companies are expanding their offering into business that is new for them.
  • Transformational: When companies are developing offerings in markets that don’t exist yet.

But beyond that, the article makes some very concrete recommendations for organizational innovation programs:

Multi-disciplinary innovation teams: Innovation teams should be composed of a varied skill set that can manage numerous challenges. Oftentimes innovation teams function as a start-up within an established business.
Dedicated Staff: Organizations that are serious about innovation should not ask their team members to divide their efforts. Oftentimes, we see innovation programs layered on top of someone’s day-to-day duties and expectations. This is sometimes successful, but it also risks diluting the potency of any innovation program.
Allocate Resources: Dedicated budgets allow innovation teams to assign real resources no matter where they are aligning their efforts. Without the budget to ideate, evaluate, and prototype, it is unlikely that real progress will be made.
Define Success Over Time: When teams are calculating their ROI, they should do it on an exponential basis, beginning with nonfinancial success and measuring their programs against various organizational objectives.

Certainly, each of these best practices represents a commitment to innovation that also has in mind the overall business goals of the organization that it’s serving. And although numerous companies are committed to widespread ideation, it is often hard for them to attend to that next level of sourcing the best ideas to dedicate real resources to.

The process of successfully identifying new ideas depends on the innovation team first defining vectors for success and ensuring that ideas that move through each successive stage gate measure progress against those objectives. It is for this reason, that IdeaScale has developed a sophisticated decision matrix system that evaluates promising ideas against organization goals, as well as potential costs and constraints.

To learn more about prioritizing an organization’s innovation initiatives, join IdeaScale’s complimentary webinar about decision matrix solutions on June 10th at 10 a.m. PST. Register today.

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

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