top of page

Is Yours an Innovative Organisation?

Innovation seems to be a tired buzzword in Singapore yet many organisations are still in the infancy stage when it comes to this. New startups excepted, companies normally have a difficult time when it comes to innovation, especially if they are staring at the face of today’s big winner. It is extremely difficult to cut the apron strings from a current-performing business unit or product, and focus on the baby-steps of a new one. After all, a bird in hand is certainly worth two in the bush; so if we have a current cash cow, let's just focus all our resources in shoring it up, making sure that we maintain this strength. Unfortunately, that is a recipe for disaster. By not focusing on tomorrow, especially when you have strength today, you will be starving your future for the present. And when it finally runs out, as all cash cows are wont to do, you will be left stranded. So in this article, I start with 15 questions to allow you to see if indeed you are running an innovative organisation, uncovering different areas of focus, and then from there look at the leadership challenge to bring innovation into the fore for your organistion.

15 Questions

Answer the following questions "yes" or "no" (ignore the letters in parentheses for now)…

  1. Do you have a vision for your innovation strategy? (S)

  2. Are all members of senior management champions of at least one innovation project? (P)

  3. Do you use a methodology to develop your innovative ideas and test them? (M)

  4. Are your innovation projects specifically linked to business objectives? (O)

  5. Do you have an annual budget for innovation? (B)

  6. Are your current innovation projects aligned with your core competencies? (O)

  7. Do you identify the maximum time to take to bring your minimum viable product to market? (M)

  8. Do you have a head of innovation who is trained to manage projects, and can guide all levels of management to success? (P)

  9. Do you have, or know how, to implement innovation pivots? (M)

  10. Have you segmented your strategy so as to take advantage of first mover, fast follower, or imitator positions? (S)

  11. Is your innovation budget in the range of 10% – 15% of your total budget? (B)

  12. Are you willing to kill a project if it crosses either time or budget limits, walking away from sunk costs? (O)

  13. Are all your innovation teams trained to conduct innovation projects? (P)

  14. Do you communicate your innovation strategy to all your staff and get them involved? (S)

  15. Have you determined the size of next year’s innovation budget? (B)

Assessing your responses

1. Total number of yeses versus noes

The first cut assessment is the total number of "Yes" responses versus the number of "No" responses. Obviously, the more "Yes" responses you have, the more of an innovation bent your organisation has. Having many noes does not necessarily make your organisation less innovative, perhaps it simply lacks strength in certain areas. Which brings us to the next assessment...

2. Specific areas of focus

Next, you should look at the different innovation areas that are relatively weaker than others. To do this, look at this mapping...

  1. Strategy (S) - Questions 1, 10, 14

  2. Operations (O) - Questions 4, 6, 12

  3. Budgeting (B) - Questions 5, 11, 15

  4. Methodology (M) - Questions 3, 7, 9

  5. People (P) - Questions 2, 8, 13

Although three questions per area is too few, the intent here is not to do a complete deep dive, but to have a sense of where we should be focusing on in our bid to improve innovation leadership in the organisation. So those areas that are all "No" should be the key focus for your organisational development.