Fascinating, scary article on a report from Nielsen about the relationship between innovation and the physical proximity of senior management. Anyone who has ever worked in a big company isn’t going to be shocked by the news, but it turns out that “companies that take a hands-off approach with product development incubation and also employ other innovation best practices, on average derive 650% more revenue from new products than companies that do not follow these practices ” as reported by Media Post.
The report also goes on to talk about how in most cases a company would be better off having no innovation teams than locating them at the corporate headquarters. What does that say about the state of management today? Sad but not too surprising. It sounds as if the main interest here is in covering one’s butt as opposed to in winning.
There are some forward-thinking big companies that welcome innovation and change but probably not as many as think of themselves as such. The big guys often try to put things into nice little five-year planning cycles and the world moves too fast for that. I find this especially in areas of emerging technology, where a six month plan is long-term thinking. It just doesn’t fit in with most corporate structures and the fact that it doesn’t drives caretaker managers crazy.
Let me ask the reverse question. If the corporate management team leaves the innovators alone or parks them on an island, is that team responsible enough to accept accountability for results? Often the fear, which is not unfounded, is that the new products/innovation team is given carte blanche to think big and out of the box but isn’t held to the same standards of productive, measurable results as the rest of the organization. That’s just as wrong as stifling them, in my opinion.
How do you strike the balance between action and accountability? Are the people you hold responsible for innovation right under your wing or are they off on their own? If the latter, how are they held accountable?