Design thinking initiatives often result in pockets of innovation that can’t be scaled up throughout the organization. To foster creativity and combine human potential across the enterprise companies must completely “rewire” themselves.

Innovation is the driving force behind the digital disruption that is shaking up every industry throughout the world. To thrive amid such upheaval organizations must accelerate their ability to innovate. They need to quickly turn smart ideas into lucrative new products and services.

Many companies have responded to this challenge by promoting design thinking within their organizations. Often, this has been supported by big investments in design skills and talent. Unfortunately, these initiatives frequently come unstuck. Time and again, firms struggle to scale up innovation. It remains limited to isolated pockets of expertise.

The solution to this impasse is to “rewire” the whole organization so that innovation can occur, and gather momentum, in every facet of the business. Breaking down traditional work silos and creating spaces for innovation are a good start. But organizations must then implement strategies that foster creativity and combine human potential throughout the enterprise. Such strategies need to be backed by a comprehensive “roadmap” that expresses the organization’s vision and commitment to change and describes how it wants to function in future. Such a roadmap should encompass the organization’s platforms and governance models.

The radical changes required to create an environment and a workforce mindset that encourage all employees to participate in constant and collaborative innovation need to be championed by the CEO and the leadership team. Companies such as Google, Ford, Zappos and FedEx have already begun to successfully rewire their organizations for innovation. They’re creating vibrant innovation cultures that spawn and nurture new ideas that are helping their businesses prosper.

Design and innovation consultancy Fjord, a subsidiary of Accenture, has identified some key steps that will enable organizations to rewire for innovation and become what it terms “Living Businesses”. These steps include:

  • Create a framework for change: Identify the goals that need to be achieved to attain scalable innovation. Reassess what success means for the business. Review performance metrics such as key performance indicators, Net Promotor Scores or Fjord’s Living Business Vital Signs and ensure that they include measures such as time-to-impact and organizational agility. Allow for future changes in the innovation framework to accommodate shifting market conditions, unforeseen competitor behavior or technology advances.
  • Put people first: Allow employees to shape the future of their organization. Provide them with opportunities to identify, share and develop innovative ideas that will enhance or extend the business. Offer training and resources to encourage workers to learn new skills in other disciplines. Build inter-disciplinary teams supported by agile workflows to sustain innovation and bring new ideas to market quicker.
  • Review innovation tools: Collaboration tools available from vendors such as Slack, Facebook and Microsoft are making innovation across the workforce easier, quicker and more effective. Reassess the collaboration and messaging tools currently in use and upgrade them where necessary.

For more information about rewiring your organization for innovation, take a look at the Fjord Trends 2017 report. It contains plenty of insights into how to cultivate innovation within the workforce as well as lots of information about the other key trends shaping businesses in the digital economy.

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