Innovation Labs

Posted by on August 19, 2016, Leave a Comment

Many clients combine an investment in in-house labs with a small venture fund to place two-way bets – either to home-grow, or takes shares in, new ideas or “prod-servs”, anticipating that they’ll create new sources of income.
In this way, they expect the mature parts of the business to be partnered with fresh scaffolding to forge a more resilient organisation and to appeal to clients and customers with new offerings.

So how is this investment in labs working and what makes for more success than less?
Key issues in any test of value include:
A) What thinking has guided the separation between the business as usual and the lab – should the boundary be tight or loose?
B) What choices have been made in assigning or rotating staff through the labs to engage them with how it works and how it attracts new thinking – alongside all the other ways of attracting new thinking in any business?
C) Aside from the novel space, the dress code and processes in use, how does the “lab” make a viable and measured contribution to future-proofing the business?
D) How do leaders demonstrate they understand, own and advocate for the “innovation intent” and for the chosen pathway(s) now in place to foster that innovation
E) What will sustain the labs as a means to drive innovation – do we need a Lab on Labs to get a second wave of innovation around this challenging (but possibly too fashionable) toolkit?

In the end, labs need to be something more than a fresh play in the great sport of organisational architecture – leaders need to understand how to behave, how to use language and how to create (at least) the headspace for staff to see issues in fresh ways, with people and mindsets they haven’t engaged with before!

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