As IMA’s CEO, I fully support a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. In fact, it’s one of IMA’s Global Core Values. We live in an environment of competition, consolidation, commoditization, and complexity. An emphasis on innovation as a sustainable business process helps you reach your company’s financial and nonfinancial goals by delivering differentiated value. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when considering innovation in your company:
- Why is it important?
In today’s fast-paced business landscape, companies need to innovate to stay relevant and successful. A company that fosters innovation allows its employees and other stakeholders at all levels to become involved in the innovation cycle, from ideation to implementation.
For example, after two years of having a staff innovation council at IMA, we believe innovation is built into our strategic “DNA” with incentives to take risks and build prototypes to test ideas early. We follow Cynthia Barton Rabe’s credo: “Don’t let what you know limit what you can imagine.”
- How will you inspire innovation?
Recent IMA research found that while companies want to innovate, they fall short on the “how-to,” which includes innovation governance and measurement and the role of the CFO. Make it part of your culture and strategy to ensure sustainability. Treat it as a body of knowledge or a business process that requires investment, governance, and reasonable short- and long-term ROI expectations.
Per reengineering expert Gary Hamel, “Radical innovation comes from generating a collective sense of destiny, from unleashing the imagination of people across the organization and teaching people how to see unconventional opportunities… Most companies devote too much energy to optimizing what is there than to imagine what could be. We need to create constituencies for ‘What Could Be.’”
- How will you measure innovation?
IMA recently published Advancing Innovation by Patrick Stroh that includes a new measure called Innovation Value Score (IVS). It uses the BSC framework developed by cofounder Robert S. Kaplan, who wrote the foreword of the book. IVS allows you to assess innovation success, drive innovation in your company, and provide actionable information to corporate decision makers.
While our members, customers, and the profession are the ultimate judge of IMA’s value-added products, services, and bundles, IMA has delivered on several innovative ideas in the past year, including CareerDriver, a new self-assessment competency management tool; the Student Leadership Experience, giving qualified students an opportunity to directly participate in IMA’s Board meetings; and an “inspired technology lab,” focusing squarely on the user experience with IMA portals.
Driving Home Innovation
Don’t treat innovation as a “one-hit wonder” or PR tool to impress your members, customers, board, or other stakeholders. Instead, enable innovation governance, measurement, and role clarity to experience long-term innovation success.
Hamel put it best: “To encourage innovation, to create a real constituency for What Could Be, companies need to unleash ideas, passion, and commitment across the company. We have to move…beyond innovation as a once-in-a-while project, to thinking about innovation as a deep capability.”
Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson
How to Drive Innovation as a CFO – Jeff Thomson, Forbes
Advancing Innovation: What’s Your Role? – Strategic Finance
How Crowdsourcing Delivers Supply Chain Innovation – CFO.com