Many organizations have plenty of people willing to innovate, but they remain unclear about the company’s innovation ambitions and each unit’s role in achieving those. People therefore work busily on new ideas, but they are not pulling in the same direction. Efforts are mostly incremental and don’t scale. While the wheels spin, getting anyplace is hard. The most ambitious innovators become frustrated and start to think about leaving.
To escape this trap, effective leaders sell the dream: they articulate a vivid image of innovation success. They anchor their compelling ambition to the corporate strategy, with specific targets for growth and value creation.
But ambition alone is not enough. Effective innovation leaders choose their players, and they clarify the role of each innovation vehicle and what it should contribute to the target portfolio of activities. Given the growing importance of external innovation, these leaders also make clear the key participants’ roles in the broader innovation ecosystem (such as external partners or incubators).