“Innovation is one of the cornerstones for future growth and prosperity in Europe”
So leads the Executive summary of the Euro-CASE policy paper on European Innovation Policy. In recognition of the importance of innovation the EU has made the Innovation Union one of the flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy.
As a strategic advisor on innovation the policy paper is of particular interest in that it not only talks about innovation in terms of technical advancement but also recognises the importance of a culture of innovation including…
“Innovation in business models, design, branding and services that add value for producers and consumers alike.”
So for example on the one hand we have calls within the paper for innovation in manufacturing and for members to “consider robotization according to their industrial specialization patterns in order to lay the idiosyncratic foundations for the third industrial revolution” whilst on the other we have calls for greater alignment between public, private and educational establishments together with an embracing of a more entrepreneurial method of working.
This emphasis on innovation not purely in the terms of invention but also in organisational culture is highlighted in the final section of the paper, which considers the outlook for 2020. Amid comments about R&D and budget constraints the paper comments;
“What is needed across Europe is a change in the way we perceive businesses. A cultural change that values innovation and entrepreneurial activities would help to unleash much of today’s unused potential.”
In fact the concluding sentence within the report says…
“The EU should support a cultural change that embraces risk taking and values entrepreneurial activities when it comes to innovation.”
But it is one thing to call for a change in culture to one which supports innovation, quite another to set out the roadmap which will guide that change. Any organisational culture change requires a considerable amount of forward planning; when it comes to something as potentially radical as a change to an innovation culture, unless the beliefs and behaviours, values and attitudes are clearly mapped out in advance, the chances are that the transformation will fail.
Defining the expected innovation strategies and then taking the time to develop innovation leaders, to help the senior teams to learn new skills and to adopt new behaviours is vital if the innovation transformation is to succeed. When failure ceases to be a black mark and instead becomes a learning point, when silo working is replaced by collaboration and when customers cease to be ‘things to be sold to’ and instead form part of a co-creation network then it is the guiding values and attitudes of the innovation leaders who will define success or otherwise.
53% of business leaders say that their board often talks about innovation but nobody seems clear what it means. What this EU report shows is that innovation at all levels is now a driving force as we move towards 2020.
If you want to find out more about innovating the future perhaps it’s time you got in touch? Feel free to email Cris at firstname.lastname@example.org or browse our website for more information on how Cris and The Future Shapers team help some of the world’s smartest companies succeed through innovation.