Studies have shown that creating alignment is one of the five most essential capabilities to increase return on your innovation effort (BCG, 2020). Despite this awareness, 56% of globally surveyed companies identify the alignment of innovation targets as a significant issue (PwC, 2017).
Organisations with complex product portfolios often find themselves struggling to align the leadership team around a set of commonly agreed targets for innovation. There might be a universally accepted strategy but a no alignment about how we should achieve those targets as one company.
Creating alignment does not have to be a massive effort
Fortunately, there is a way to reach alignment effectively and without launching a corporate-wide strategy or change management project. Within weeks you can create a stronger leadership team that share a common language and agree on what should be the focus and impact of innovation by answering the following questions:
- What changes in the external world are impacting your business?
- What are your most urgent and effective responses to these changes?
- How ambitious should you be, i.e. how much change are you willing to make?
- Where and how will innovation play a role in all the above?
- What results do you expect from your efforts both financially and otherwise?
- What organisational changes would you need to make to deliver these results?
A practical and straightforward approach to quickly achieve alignment
Conduct short one-on-one interviews with the leadership team and several partners and customers to identify the primary changes that will affect the company in the coming one to three years. These shifts are described both in terms of what they mean and how they could affect the company. This exercise creates a common baseline to support and guide leadership dialogue.
Gather the leadership team and key stakeholders for a workshop to address the questions above, to:
- Discuss changes you identified to create full transparency across the team
- Agree on the most influential changes and the potential impact they will have on your business
- Discuss what effort it would require to address these changes
- Prioritise where you should focus based on impact and effort
- Decide how ambitious should you be in addressing this change
- Define a portfolio of (innovation) initiatives and resource allocation
From the workshop results, you can then define a three-year program with a clear action plan for the first 12 months. In a second session, the leadership team will review the program and agree on any final resource allocation decisions.
The result is clarity and alignment among the leadership team about the main challenges and opportunities the organisation will pursue in the next 12 months, what results they are expecting and the plan to achieve this.