STAMFORD, Conn. - Dec. 21, 2015 - PRLog -- Schaffer Consulting's "Going for Gold" webinar, held on November 17, gave listeners a real-world look into how companies innovate, and the four conditions that must exist for that innovation to succeed.
Featuring Schaffer's Daniel Dworkin and Markus Spiegel, panelists included Sara Beckman from Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; Dan Cherian, VP of Global Innovation at VF Corporation; and Dinsh Guzdar, President of San Francisco-based f'real foods. The lively panel discussion and Q&A session uncovered strategies that companies can use to develop untapped innovation potential.
Panelists discussed the four conditions that Schaffer's recent innovation survey confirmed are essential to drive innovation results. These conditions are constant energy, creative friction, purposeful discovery, and a flexible structure. "There is never a single recipe for success, and the task of innovation is complex and ambiguous," said Daniel Dworkin, Schaffer Consulting Partner. "Our survey, and the input from the thought leaders participating in our webinar, help us better understand and distinguish successful innovation teams from those who miss the mark – and highlight the conditions necessary for innovation to thrive." The survey results also clearly show that all four conditions were strong for innovation leaders. The key takeaway is that the best thing leaders can do to support innovation success is to work on getting the conditions right.
The biggest obstacle, according to Dworkin, is that "corporations have spent decades building organizations as execution machines and not innovation incubators. They are oriented around re-occurring tasks and therefore can flourish in ‘command and control’ environments. While this approach does create efficiencies, it reduces the effectiveness of innovation and discovery." The constant energy that is so essential to innovation was a key focal point of f'real foods' success. "When f'real was acquired, we recognized its innovation capability and preserved it, keeping it separate from the parent organization," said f'real foods' Dinsh Guzdar. "We continued to communicate an inspiring vision for the future and maintained consistent and authentic interactions with team members to drive engagement. As a result, we have been able to maintain the energy of a start-up, even post-acquisition – and continue to develop highly innovative products."
Even large corporations can create the flexibility of smaller, more nimble competitors, noted VF Corporation's Dan Cherian, who described his company's successful experiment in flattening out teams. As part of that initiative, Cherian and his team at VF eliminated silos, diversified teams and reconfigured them in the face of new insights. As a result of those steps, he was able to create a much more flexible structure that enables greater innovation at VF.
According to the survey, 46 percent of all managers believe they are misaligned and too rigid in pursuit of innovation. Working within established boundaries and the inherent aversion to risk seen in corporate environments mean that most big companies face an uphill battle when it comes to innovation. Markus Spiegel, Schaffer Consulting Partner, pointed to Google as an example of an organization that has invested heavily in facilities designed to facilitate easier communication. "Creative friction demands rich, frequent interaction. We often see innovation teams that interact mostly via e-mail – they limit real discussions to formal review sessions. This type of behavior may seem to be more efficient, but it’s certainly not more effective when it comes to innovation,” Spiegel said. Haas's Professor Beckman added, "Leaders assume that when they put people together in a group, they know how to act as a team, and that's not always the case.” Spiegel explained that leaders can set their teams up for success by paying attention to composition, helping to clarify roles, and ensuring opportunities for regular face-to-face time to facilitate more spontaneous discussions. “By paying attention to these dynamics, leaders can manufacture the creative friction needed to produce innovation results," said Spiegel.
The Webinar and more detail regarding the four conditions necessary for innovation success are accessible online at Schaffer Consulting's website.