Due to the increase in competitive intensity across industries, the accelerated pace of business and the globalized nature of many organizations, top management is constantly pressured to deliver ever more challenging growth targets. From our experience, companies continue to struggle in trying to balance the tensions that exist between defending the existing and dominant positions (their core business) and creating new profitable growth through new business developments and innovations.
Truly innovative companies are able to deliver a consistent stream of market successes via successful businesses and products or improved processes that continuously translate market successes into economic value that enhances competitive advantage and sustains growth. This achieves the best “bang for the buck,” that maximizes the returns of invested resources across their growth portfolio.
So, what are the best practices that successful high performance companies have in common? There are many ways to address this question. One initial answer came from a study from the American Productivity Quality Center (ASQ); a survey of 600 CEOs in the manufacturing, service, healthcare and education sectors revealed that innovative organizations have similarities in strategic approach and processes.
Organizations that deliver superior productivity and returns have the following 7 practices:
1. They are customer focused: they understand that they exist to deliver real value to their customers, therefore their decisions, processes are conceived and implemented to identify customer needs and requirements and infuse their input throughout their growth processes.
2.They execute heavy front-end homework before development begins: high performing companies ask the right and difficult questions way before the major work and investment is committed. By doing the proper due process early, they can quickly eliminate less attractive options and focus only on those that have the potential to impact the business positively.
3.Involve users early and often: their solutions development approach includes spiral development-loops with users throughout the process. This guarantees that customer input is factored into key decisions early on and is adjusted across the development process.
4.Effective team management for growth: these organizations have holistic and effective cross-functional teams. They have clearly assigned charters, proper team composition and efficient team dynamics, including: communication and decision-making. Also, there is clear alignment between each teams goals and the overall strategic direction of the organization.
5.Tracking of relevant metrics: they track key metrics, have accountable teams, and produce profit/loss reports for continuous learning.
6. Strong growth portfolio management focus: they understand companies have very limited time, resources and people so they have effective decisions frameworks and supporting systems to enable, identify, articulate, document and prioritize key growth options.
7. Custom Stage-Gate process that adapts to their culture and operations: they usually have lean, scalable and adaptable processes to improve decisions making and accelerate time to make while keeping the rigor required to deliver results and manage risk.
Clearly, becoming a high performance innovation-driven organization is part of a continuous improvement process. In our practice, we work side-by-side with top management in understanding the current state of their growth and innovation capabilities by going even deeper and assessing their performance in key multiple areas such as: (1) strategy focus, (2) competitive context (3) customer centricity, (4) culture, leadership and Language, (5) support systems and tools, (6) team management practices, (7) management process and metrics and (8) organization and structure.
A quick but thoughtful evaluation of these areas can help you and your teams not only identify gaps and articulate areas of opportunity, but most importantly create effective action plans and transformation roadmaps towards becoming a truly high performance innovation-driven organization.