Innovation is a term that is thrown around like confetti at a New York City Canyon of Heroes celebration parade. Talking about innovation and implementing it from start to finish is another story. The IG (Innovation Graveyard) is strewn with innovation projects started with the best of intentions but which subsequently failed due to a lack of vision, strategy, planning, resources and leadership.
To transform your business it is important that you, as the leader of your publishing house, for example, challenge your colleagues, but most important challenge yourself, to go beyond your normal day to day business activities. Business leaders who wish to foster innovation must ask these questions of themselves and their team members:
- What is innovation?
- What is culture?
- What are the best practices of innovation?
- What are the best practices of a high performing culture?
- What are the best practices of creating an innovative culture?
Projects that are labeled Innovative have not been fully vetted unless there are answers to the following key questions that the management team and an oversight board need to ask themselves:
- What is the strategic objective of the Innovative Project? Any innovation project must have a strategic purpose.
- What will this Innovative Project do for our customers and our business?
- Do we have the necessary personal and expertise to build and implement the Innovative Project?
- If not, are we able to outsource the Innovative Project to a reputable vendor?
- Has the Innovative Project been fully funded to ensure that it will be completed on time in its full capacity?
The Japanese believe in and utilize the practice of “Kaizen,” defined as continuous improvement. Innovation does not have to involve a big bang; it could be just a tweak to a flawed process, product, etc. that improves a company’s productivity, profitability, or customer service significantly. Innovation can be described as a new idea, new feature, new process, new product, etc., that will improve productivity, profitability, quality of service and professionalism of your organization.
Does your company’s culture create a positive environment for innovation or does your culture encourage the status quo? Let’s do a quick check to see if your company’s culture creates a positive environment for innovation.
- Within team members’ performance objective setting for the year, is there an item for their annual objectives that includes an innovation project?
- For your team members’ individual annual performance and compensation review are they provided financial incentive for their innovation project?
- Does your company allow every team to dedicate a percentage of its time to an innovation project?
- Is innovation actively encouraged by the CEO and senior management team?
- Is innovation is celebrated at your company?
For each question give your company a score of 1 – 5 (1 = Not innovative at all, 2 = A little innovative, 3 = Sometimes innovative, 4 = More innovative than not, 5 = Fully innovative) and add up your score.
If your score is 23 or higher than your company is truly an innovative company. If your score is 20 – 22 your company is working towards being an innovative company. If your company’s score is under 20, it may show some signs of being innovative, however it has a lot of opportunity to grow.
How does your publishing house define itself when it comes to innovation? Does your publishing house like to lead the industry in new developments, or follow the leaders and allow them to underwrite new innovative developments? Or does your company wait until the market has accepted a new innovation and then adopt it?
Is there an innovative project included in your company’s strategic plan? Has your company established a defined project plan, with a team, budget, etc.? What will be the key aspects of the innovation project that will drive your company’s success? How will you measure success of your innovation project? What type of performance dashboard will you use to ensure that your innovation project is hitting its milestones?
In Kaihan Kippendorff’s book “Outthink the competition: How A New Generation of Strategists Sees Options Others Ignore,” the author tells the story of a leader who creates a fictitious competitor that he uses to keep his team members on their toes. After a period of time he discloses to his colleagues that the great competitor they have been fighting to beat in the market is a fictitious company. The competitive innovative behaviors that he wanted to instill within his team are now deeply knitted in the fabric of their everyday culture.
Over the last 20 years we have seen the launch of electronic journals, electronic books, Open Access journals, Federated Search, altmetrics, expert networks and hundreds of start ups eager to improve the value chain of scholarly publishing. There are dozens of new initiatives on the horizon. Some will succeed, some will fail, and the question is, Where will your company fall in the area of innovative developments?
So you may ask, If my company did not score 20 or more on our innovative questionnaire, how do we get started to create an innovative culture? The answer is to start with baby steps. Begin the process of conducting a gap analysis of your current culture. Next, establish a project plan that will position your company to take full advantage of an innovative culture. Then select a good solid innovative project to kickoff your program.
Every publishing house has the opportunity to be innovative and the innovative project does not need to be the “Big Hairy Audacious” innovation project. An innovative project can be small but have huge benefits.
Last but not least, encourage your team members to read up on innovation and share the best practices with you and their colleagues. There is a lot of information on innovation and it is at everyone’s fingertips via smart phones. Information is power