Mind the “Innovation Gap”

Innovation Gap

When researching innovation in the manufacturing and energy sector, I found some curious results. I’d find out that “75% of private sector Research and Development in the US is performed by manufacturers.” But then in another article, I’d find “42% of middle market industrial companies don’t have a formal idea selection process.” This discrepancy, however incongruous, is not uncommon. Organizations spend a great deal of time (and money) on research, but the true innovation capacity of an organization is not determined on their ability to learn, but on their ability to deliver.

In a Harvard Business Review article, one writer states “Higher ideation rates are correlated with growth and net income because companies with an innovation culture not only generate better ideas but are organized and managed to act on them.” This means that the future of innovation in the manufacturing and energy sector is going to be led by those that can close this “innovation gap” – the rift that exists between research and the resulting ideas and the ability to steward those ideas through to completion. So what things help to close the innovation gap?

Senior Level Buy-In. When someone from company leadership endorses and promotes an innovation program it has an impact on culture and an impact on new ideas – people know that the program is being watched and will likely have to see at least a few ideas through to completion.

Criteria Established by Decision Makers. If the folks who will be selecting and implementing ideas have a say in the criteria used to filter ideas, it is far more likely that they will be bought in and far more likely that they will end up on ideas that are actionable.

Aligning Ideas to Business Resources. If you know there are parts of your organization that have resources and are looking to prioritize efforts, then bring your ideation program in line with those programs. Ideas that exist in a part of the organization that already have energy

Aligning Ideas to Business Needs. If you know that there are some business needs that have problems – then put your innovation program where it can help close the gap. People will be relieved that they have solutions to long-standing problems.

These are just a few of the things to add to your innovation program in order to move ideas forward. To learn about the innovation capacity of organizations in the manufacturing and energy sector, download our complimentary infographic.