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.

In this post, we focused our reflection on failure points of CIGs – where have CIGs stumbled? What’s kept them from success? Here are a few patterns that emerged for causes of failures:

  • Risk tolerance in theory vs. practice
  • Testing business & revenue models too late
  • Lack of alignment on an innovation charter
  • Under-leveraging core strengths/over-stretching capabilities
  • Overly-constrained funding mechanisms
  • A culture of consensus – slows projects down
  • Lack of strategic criteria for evaluating projects

We’re inviting you into our process to review the major themes & quotes via our Realtime Board.

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See Themes & Quotes

Below is a list of some themes that gave us a lot of food for thought…

The purpose of the innovation group varies widely across organizations; often the concept of innovation is loosely defined.

How our interviewees defined the overarching purpose of their groups:

  • More customer-centric products and services
  • Explore emerging trends and technologies
  • Diversify our portfolio
  • Attract talent to our core business
  • A testing ground for new ideas from the core business

There’s not a common definition of “risk” for corporate innovation groups and the appetite for risk fluctuates as a result of leadership changes or external market forces. The way the core business sizes risk is different from the way that the CIG does – it’s risky to NOT be innovative, but it’s risky to change the status quo. Innovation teams then face this tension of needing to take risks and also frame their efforts as de-risking.

How our interviewees defined risk:

  • Take bold bets
  • The opportunity cost of not doing something
  • The level of importance to the core business
  • Looking bad to the rest of the organization

Having a clear partner in the core business who will advocate for funding the work of innovation group, and commit to scaling/growing it, is fundamental for success. In other words, there needs to be someone in the core business who has “skin in the game” for ensuring the innovation group’s success and protecting it against actors who may not support their work.

The closer the CIG can align its projects to the organization’s current capabilities/priorities and that leverage existing strengths within the organizations, the more successful they’re likely to be. The challenge for innovation is stretching those capabilities into new areas for growth without scaring off support (funding, buy-in) from the core business.

Reach out to cmaxwell@peerinsightventures.com if you have any questions about our approach or findings!

See Part I for more wins & woes of innovation groups

See Part 2 for more wins & woes of innovation groups

Download our Corporate Innovation Playbook

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