Businesses around the world, including developments in technology, all allude to the same conclusion:
Innovation is necessary for companies to survive. It can’t be a one-time thing. It has to be proactive, continuous, and ongoing. It drives overall progress, changes, and growth, so activities related to this process have to be managed very well.
Knowing how a company’s top management is responsible for reinforcing innovation within the organization, executives have to be vigilant in directing, supporting, and promoting innovation.
They are also the primary decision-makers of innovation activities, which could potentially play a huge role in determining its failure or success.
Yet provided that there are day-to-day leaders in a company who can handle innovation management, is there really a need for an innovation board or an innovation steering committee? What are the pros and cons of having one?
Before we jump to the answers, let us first understand what an innovation board is.
What is an innovation board?
An innovation board (otherwise referred to as the innovation steering committee) is a formidable combination of executives from across the business who manage and oversee your company’s whole innovation journey.
They are in charge of leading organizational change that will lead the company to a culture that encourages and maintains innovation, as well as regularly reviewing it to ensure that innovation strategies, initiatives, goals, plans, and objectives remain on track.
This group is usually composed of the CEO and other senior executives.
They define innovation priorities, implement innovation culture, allocate sufficient resources, and make important decisions regarding innovation within the company.
It is, in a nutshell, an innovation governance hub, which attempts to effectively represent all essential interests and stakeholders by meaningful membership.
Why do you need an innovation board in your company?
There are five primary reasons why you need an innovation board for your business:
1. To put more focus on “pull” innovation
Pull innovation happens when a company first identifies a true customer problem or need and then seeks to address it.
Push innovation, on the other hand, comes when a company builds new technological capabilities first then explores problems to solve it with.
The reason why companies have to focus on “pull” innovation is this:
Resources end up wasted when businesses waste money, time, energy, and people on “push” innovation since they don’t provide meaningful commercial value and are thus rendered unprofitable.
2. To ensure innovations are aligned with the business goals
Innovation programs have to be fully integrated with business strategies to become successful.
For companies, this is more likely to happen when senior executives spearhead the implementation of innovation activities.
This is the reason why the inputs of top corporate executives are essential to the success of every innovation effort.
Meanwhile, when middle managers are in control of your innovation activities, many fantastic ideas will be generated, but only a small percentage of these concepts will become relevant to your strategic objectives.
3. To help manage innovation risks
Everything that a company should do to manage innovation risks involves the inputs of senior leaders:
- Establishing a risk-taking culture in the organization
- Implementing risk management in the entire innovation process
- Managing risk tolerance and constantly studying hazards associated with innovation
- Introducing new organizational competencies and enabling workers to develop new skills through various workshops and training
- Monitoring the efficacy of organizational risk management systems
4. To help in managing resources
Businesses handle, maintain, and manage a wide range of resources, particularly people, time, and money.
Managing them may get hard when you consider all of their components and the possible threats they pose.
Not only must they be correctly assigned, but there must also be support systems in place to protect against any blunders and legal ramifications.
Resource management must be creative in order to enhance efficiency while also accounting for liabilities, and that requires the expertise of senior executives.
5. To make important decisions regarding the execution of innovation projects
The innovation board plays an integral role in establishing an organization’s innovation roadmap and prioritization.
In putting ideas into action, people frequently have to choose between accomplishing more and executing things properly.
This is because not all ideas can be implemented at the same time, especially since
doing things correctly requires time and resources to carry out.
As time is limited, it becomes too costly to waste, and so some ideas have to be prioritized ahead of others.
Prioritizing your ideas effectively will enable you to:
- Boost your productivity
- Create more informed choices now and in the future
- Enhance your openness within the company
- Remember that you’re aiming for a specific result
Furthermore, because the innovation board employs the stage-gate process (one of the most extensively used ways for managing innovation), an operational roadmap is generated as a result of bringing a product from concept to launch.
This can result in more successful project outcomes and shorter project schedules.
How does this committee enlarge your focus on innovation?
The innovation steering committee can enlarge the company’s focus on innovation by:
1. Establishing responsibilities and methods of working on innovation.
However, the innovation board gives innovation teams sufficient freedom and trust to explore great ideas with calculated risks.
They constantly find ways to make the company’s innovation systems better. This is to increase the productivity and efficiency level of every employee working on every innovation activity.
2. Determining decision-making abilities and obligations of employees in the innovation process.
They assign innovation leaders, managers, or supervisors with limited decision-making authority.
These are the people who they assign to report to them and lead on their behalf with their consent, particularly on resolving minor innovation issues.
The innovation board also holds them accountable for the failure or accomplishment of every innovation initiative set for the organization to finish within a certain period.
3. Identifying the innovation participants’ key responsibilities.
Everyone is expected to fully cooperate in every phase of the innovation process. People are significant in accomplishing innovation tasks.
In fact, the success of the activity depends on their ingenuity, capability, readiness, and support.
So every innovation participant is expected to do their part in accomplishing innovation objectives.
4. Creating a set of values that supports innovation endeavors.
The innovation board fosters a workplace that supports innovation culture — an atmosphere where every employee is given the chance to air out their opinions and insights for the company.
The innovation board also welcomes experimentation — a phase where they recognize that failures are necessary to learn, adapt, and develop the correct methods to use in pushing innovation goals through.
5. Defining expectations for innovation outputs.
This is when the innovation board sets deliverables and deadlines for every innovation participant to follow.
Depending on what the company’s objectives are, expectations are usually made up of a combination of factors such as desired outcomes, target dates, realistic and trackable output.
6. Assigning KPIs in assessing innovation results.
In business, it is hard to effectively manage something that you cannot even measure.
This is why it is critical for the innovation board to choose a certain set of statistics called key performance indicators.
These will assess the organization’s success in relation to a particular benchmark such as profitability, overall labor effectiveness, productivity, and many more.
7. Making budgetary decisions for innovation.
Resource management involves organizing, scheduling, and assigning people, finances, time, and technologies to a certain project or activity.
It is, essentially, the way of allocating resources in order to maximize organizational value. Good resource management ensures that the appropriate resources are available at the appropriate time.
8. Organizing, prioritizing, and balancing cross-divisional innovation activities.
Cross-functional innovation groups may be extremely effective.
This happens when they are provided they have explicit leadership, transparency, specific objectives, appropriate innovation management solutions, and the company’s willingness to spend in supporting their success.
When cross-divisional activities are created, they are typically formed to foster innovation, disintegrate bureaucratic barriers, and shorten the turnaround time by establishing a more collaborative atmosphere.
9. Establishing management procedures for communication of innovation initiatives.
To flourish in today’s business climate, organizations must work with partners and internal stakeholders to co-create game-changing innovations.
Building effective communication systems, or the failure to do so, can make or break your attempts to bring great innovations.
The innovation board needs to send a message across the company, as well as to its partners, that innovation projects are aligned with the company’s broader aims where the importance of everyone’s participation in the innovation process is emphasized.
The risks of an innovation board
Without significant input, the innovation board automatically becomes irrelevant.
But when they are proactive and are all supportive of establishing a culture of innovation within the company, then their way of governance may be fun and productive.
However, the people behind your innovation board should maintain a bold, dynamic, enthusiastic, and motivating attitude — one that performs leadership, but is at the same time welcoming to the suggestions of their subordinates.
Also, knowing how preparation is key and how major decisions can be performed by innovation leaders that are working on the activities themselves, it might be difficult to decide whether a group of executives have to be formed for the sole purpose of directing innovation.
Get more done with an innovation steering committee
Innovation should be a priority. In this day and age where improvements have to be consistently made to remain relevant, the only way for businesses to survive is through making innovation a habit.
With an innovation steering committee, not only will an organization obtain a solid direction in terms of innovation initiatives.
The company can also focus more on implementing innovation projects with a group of highly seasoned executives who are more truly knowledgeable in the field.
Learn more about organizing innovation by exploring our free innovation ebook today, which discusses the secrets of developing an innovative organization.