• September 9, 2016

Built for Change: Why Innovation Requires Preparation

Enterprises with successful innovation have five characteristics in common.

Enterprises must continuously innovate to be more agile, flexible, and responsive to rapidly changing technology and customer needs. But enterprise leaders know that IT innovation doesn’t just happen on a whim—certain steps must be taken to ensure transformation efforts are successfully implemented and adopted. Unfortunately, research suggests that far too many enterprise organizations fail to successfully manage those steps.

In fact, as this McKinsey & Company report points out, almost every major survey shows that the vast majority of large-scale enterprise change programs fail to meet their goals. There are a number of reasons for that, but the McKinsey report reached one major conclusion: Most enterprises just aren’t built for change. Instead, they’re designed around discipline and consistency—two characteristics that tend to act counter to innovation.

5 Characteristics of Effective Enterprise Innovation

So, what can organizations do to oppose the natural forces standing in the way of enterprise innovation? Sudeep Gautam, HPE VP & GM of Global Mobility Services and Advisory Transformation, says five key characteristics must be present to improve the speed and quality of innovation, and increase the likelihood of long-term transformation success.

1. Strong executive mandates: Innovation can’t be an initiative, Gautum says. It must be woven into the fabric of the organization—and that starts at the top.

2. Strategic flexibility: Transformation must start with an objective assessment of the organization’s capabilities—paying particularly close attention to culture and the workforce’s willingness to cooperate with innovation strategies.

3. Complementary strategies: If you’re going to pursue multiple innovation strategies at once, Gautum urges that you make sure they’re aligned and can feed off of each other.

4. Dynamic structures and processes: Nothing kills IT innovation faster than strict controls that limit your organization’s ability to test, fail, learn, and iterate.

5. Interdisciplinary collaboration: IT transformation thrives in an environment where people from different disciplines work together to create more robust, holistic, and dynamic solutions.

Transformation at Scale Requires Calculated Orchestration

While many enterprise innovation and transformation projects die because of too much planning and preparation, Ailton Santos, HPE VP of Software-Brazil, says large-scale innovation initiatives do still require careful orchestration.

More specifically, Santos says enterprises need to focus on their innovative foundation before trying to build anything on top of it.

“It’s one thing to know you need to be agile, dynamic, and interdisciplinary, but unless you have the infrastructure, processes, and technologies in place to actually facilitate those things, you won’t succeed,” Santos says. “This is the area where most enterprises must adapt and innovate first. Once you have the right foundation in place, it becomes much easier to accelerate innovation and keep pace with the surging speed of change.”

Like this story? Download our “Who’s Thriving and Who’s Surviving?” report to see who’s doing innovation right.