There are two key considerations when optimizing the environments in which your organizations innovate. Innovation environments need to be both high touch and high tech.
High touch innovation environments are characterized by an engaged network of teams and leaders working together on ideas and bringing them to fruition.
High tech innovation environments are characterized by robust information systems that help aggregate and organize innovative ideas and facilitate networks of innovators across the organization.
The most innovative companies have innovation environments that are both high touch and high tech. An innovation environment that is strong in tech, but low in touch results in glorified suggestion boxes. High touch innovation with low tech systems results in teams acting like an old-fashioned bucket brigade moving ideas down the line with too much effort and little opportunity for synergy with other parts of the organization.
For example, if you had a manufacturing company with a low tech innovation environment, one might see innovation occurring in R&D and Operations, but if these two groups ever innovate together effectively it will be due to the strength of exceptional networks of people communicating together. More likely, they will be unaware of the interests, insights, discoveries, activities, and progress of each other and likely just as blind to other parts of the organization.
If a manufacturing company had a high tech innovation environment, but low touch, leaders might see ideas being put into the system, but little real collaboration happening, even within key areas like Operations and R&D.
Where is your organization in terms of tech and touch? Perhaps you have an automated “idea system” that is simply a repository for ideas that get celebrated but actually never go anywhere. Perhaps you have pockets of great innovation in the organization, but lack of a robust system has hampered visibility and connection. Addressing both sides of the equation will create a great leap forward in the impact that can be created.
If leaders are in the enviable position to be strong on both of those elements, then the challenge is to make sure neither element degrades and to make sure that both are well-balanced.
If you would like to see what an optimized innovation environment might look like in your company, please email me at email@example.com and we can set up a time to chat.