Fernando Fischmann

The Necessary Elements Of Corporate Innovation

3 December, 2015 / Articles

The pursuit of innovation has pushed large companies to launch accelerators, incubators and hackathons. Some companies succeed in finding new ideas and others don’t. Why the disparity? How can companies crack the code and reap the most benefits from these investments? There are no easy answers, but there are a few necessary elements.

First there must be a problem, an uncomfortable situation, some inefficiency.  Innovation cannot be motivated unless something is broken. The old adage still holds, “Necessity is the mother of innovation.” When there is an aim or great need to make things better, people can maintain focus.

Time and resources are also important. Companies who want to succeed in innovation must allow enough time. Innovation cannot cater to quarterly earnings cycles. The answer comes to us when we least expect it. Goals can be set, but they cannot be too specific or too short-term.

Resources are necessary to fund prototyping, testing and several variations before the final product is rolled out. Iterative development cycles which quickly push out new versions require dedicated product managers. Feedback needs to be collected quickly and acted upon.  If budget cuts trim into innovation teams, good ideas might be prematurely stopped.

But what leads us to these good ideas in the first place? Do companies need to provide snacks, ping pong tables and racquet ball courts? Do employees need massages and laundry service at the office?

According to James Layfield, CEO of Central Working, “Physical space and setting only make up 25 percent of creativity. The real key to innovation and creativity is unlocking the potential within someone.”

His company, which designs and leases space to corporations and small startups, is delivering a new concept which he believes holds the key. “We believe that community has collapsed in Western societies, so we are creating a workplace environment that is caring, helpful, even loving. We provide confidence and community to make sure people succeed at work.” says Layfield.

Innovation takes place when a person can see the realities before them clearly, without panic or stress. Old-fashioned command and control style management doesn’t work in the innovation arena. The environment that Central Working creates is one where people feel listened to, encouraged, connected and ultimately empowered. His staff and teams at the various spaces are specially trained to evoke more open communication and support people.

The philosophy is similar to that of self-actualization. A person with time, resources and the motivation to create something new won’t succeed until the human side is addressed.  Innovation is not a routine process or task. It is an exploratory journey that requires both focus and curiosity. Companies that can provide the right mix of motivation, time, resources and community are on the right path.



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