9 ways to tell if your company is innovative & ahead of the market curve

Ana Fernández del Castillo

Every profitable business has its business model, its value proposition to solve today's clients needs. I repeat. Today's clients.

What about tomorrow? How do you know if your company is going to stay ahead of the curve in 5 or 10 years ahead?

Organizations that don’t change will not adapt to new demands and market threats, and will be replaced by ones that are capable of identifying new needs and opportunities. This is called organizational darwinism.

If you want to know if your company is on the right path to innovation, keep reading. We don't have a crystal ball to predict the future, but we have made this innovation checklist that will help you identify if your company is working for the long-term.

1. Resources

One of the most obvious actions that reflects the companies’ determination to innovate is the budget. Are they allocating a % of the annual budget with this purpose? Are they hiring talent that can help in any way with the investigation, testing, validation or implementation of new ideas? What about time? How much time do your employees work for clients of today and how much for clients of tomorrow?

2. Failure-tolerant culture

You can be working in a great company where the organization is perfectly designed to be the most efficient as possible in order to optimize the P&L. But a company that quickly adapts to the market changes, must give employees space to innovate and fall a few times so they can build something worth investing in. Are employees allowed to make mistakes in your company?

3. New products/service

Has your company launched a new product or service in the past 2 years or about to launch one? When a new product or service is not an incremental innovation but substantially different to what “the company traditionally has been doing” it's a sign that they are doing their homework.

4. Intrapreneurship

Unfortunately, there is a natural tendency in established organizations to preserve the status quo. In order to change that, companies must encourage workers to put forward their ideas, views and opinions. Is there a place, channel or a time for your employees to share them? How many ideas from employees have been brought to life in the last year?

5. Leadership

Who are the leaders of the organization? This is key. Resources, ideas, research... all is useless if the ones that lead the organization are not opening the way to a new future. They should inspire, act and support.

6. Open innovation

Traditionally, companies used to innovate only by using their own resources. This has changed over the last few years. There are many bright professionals and greater knowledge outside your own company. Companies that open their doors to new ideas and solutions learn faster than before. Some examples of open innovation practices are: corporate venturing, acceleration programs, scouting, partnerships, hackathons, acquisitions and innovation ecosystems. 

7. New processes and/or technologies

If you want different results, do things differently, right? The implementation of new processes, procedures, methodologies, technologies, tools reflects how your company is working for a better future. Has your company or team implemented a new technology recently?

8. Training

According to a PwC's report, CEOs consider retraining and upskilling as a top priority for their organizations, with 55% pointing out that a lack of skills holds them back from innovating effectively. Not only innovation training but anything that can help qualify your employees for the future, from soft to hard skills. Are there training sessions at your company?

9. Prestige

Your company may be innovative. But, does the world know it? If your company is perceived as innovative and cutting-edge, it will be much easier to attract and retain the best talent and new business partners, making your company a more competitive one.

So now... is your company doing everything it takes to innovate?

At Corporate Lab we are entrepreneurs creating startups for our corporate clients. If you need help identifying opportunities, testing new ideas, finding market fit, validating business models, and scaling, send us a message. Which challenges is your company facing? Contact us and let's talk!

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