We conducted a series of interviews with innovation leaders at major companies and shared our learnings in a Corporate Innovation Playbook. We summed up some interesting insights and anecdotes here.

Here are some of our top takeaways so far:

Fluidity of expectations and metrics

Two of the teams we spoke with noted flexibility in their group’s metrics. In one case, this flexibility was built-in at the beginning when they were only 7 people, but their metrics and the expectations others had of them quickly became more rigid as they grew. The other team is still young, so time will tell whether they can maintain their flexibility. Most CIGs acknowledge that they are trying to build a corporate innovation model that works for now and can pivot for the future. Should metrics and expectations follow that? We think so, but it needs to be spelled out how that evolution will occur over time and why. We’ll be listening for examples of CIGs that have successfully evolved their expectations and metrics as they’ve grown and what factors and/or activities contributed to that success.

Several groups noted that they have different groups who are responsible for different pieces of “innovation,”

…from capacity-building, to emerging tech, to digitizing existing products, to creating entirely new services for the firm to offer to new or existing customers. They each have a clear mandate, but the communication between the groups and ability to overlap, or least not duplicate work, was noted as a place they could do better. One of the teams had a specific mandate to “create new revenue streams for the firm” in order to diversify the company’s growth portfolio – a very clear mandate! In our next few conversations, we want to dig into how to improve coordination between different innovation teams and push on this idea of mandates as one lever CIGs can pull.

We heard stories of the “one that got away”

…one was about a SVP slamming on the brakes. One was about the innovation team pivoting because they lacked a clear, robust business model and that the customer desirability had changed. The first story led to more of an emotional response from the team – a deep wound. In the case of the latter, where the team controlled their own pivot, they were also disappointed but really saw this as a lesson learned. They approached leadership with a plan for a post-mortem and an ask to experiment with their processes in the innovation lab itself. Failure can be a huge source of learning and opportunity – we’re eager to hear more rebound stories and what helps teams build resiliency in the face of uncertainty.

See Part 2 for more wins & woes of innovation groups

See Part 3 for more wins & woes of innovation groups

Download our Corporate Innovation Playbook

What new questions does this bring up for you? Drop us a line at cmaxwell@peerinsight.com

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