The business value of innovation

John W Lewis's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Oct 16, 2014

Our guest this week is Andrew Townley (@atownley), who has participated in #innochat for many years and is well known to many innocats. His chosen topic for this chat reflects his interest and experience in understanding how innovation activities contribute to generating business value.

Andrew helps people and organisations to implement their strategy through his business,  Archistry. He emphasises the importance of understanding capabilities, relating processes to results, and managing risk. For a sense of his approach, you might enjoy this article in which he describes the need to control processes in high performance businesses by drawing an analogy with driving a car, actually the highest performance road car available.

He frames the innovation challenge that organizations face, as follows.

Business value

Innovation has been one of the top 3 challenges in the Conference Board’s annual CEO survey for the last 3 years, and this year’s top strategy was to create a culture of innovation by promoting and rewarding entrepreneurship and risk taking.  The problem is how do you ensure that the risks and entrepreneurial initiatives are aligned to the overall organizational strategy, and that the results of the innovation efforts are actionable and deliver clear business value.

Far too many organizations seem to have an “innovation imperative” focusing more on the process of generating ideas than the results as ways to remain relevant and competitive in today’s global marketplace.  If innovation is to be successful, we need to really understand how to focus on the right things:  products, services and organizational changes that directly contribute to the bottom line.  This direct relationship won’t happen by accident, it needs to be encouraged and assured.

This week’s discussion attempts to identify the “rules of the innovation game” based on the practical experience of our own innocats.  Like the Garfield cartoon above, you can’t win if you don’t know the rules of the game.  What we need to do is understand the essential and critical “rules of the game” so that we can demonstrate the business value of the innovation initiatives in our own organizations and those we assist.

We all know lots of the theory, and we all know innovation isn’t possible without the right culture.  The next step is to try and figure out how we can guide, encourage and govern the innovation process so we end up with tangible results undeniably tied to what matters to the organization.  Let’s leverage our collective experience of success and failure to see what the #innochat crew can do to further the state of the art.


Here are some questions for this week’s chat posed by our guest, Andrew Townley (@atownley), on the contribution of innovation activities to the generation of business value:

  1. What is the business value of innovation?
  2. In what time scales should innovation deliver business value?
  3. How do you ensure that innovation delivers business value?
  4. Which is more important for effective innovation: control, constraints or accountability?
  5. In your experience, what are the essential ingredients of successful innovation?


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