All I want for Xmas is an Innovation Lab

Innovation labs have suddenly become a very hot topic. Seemingly every company with cutting-edge ambitions wants to climb aboard this creative bandwagon. Indeed, some have embraced the idea so enthusiastically they now have three or more labs dotted around the globe. But is this wise? Do they deliver value? Are they even necessary for innovation delivery?

To find the answers, we recently held a breakfast seminar with input from two outstanding guest speakers:

  • Gary Brown was the co-founder of Ford Motor Companys innovation team. The Advanced Product Group – with a global remit for the small/medium car division – was one of the most consistently progressive teams within the ultra-competitive car industry.
  • Fiachra Woodman (known affectionately as Woody) is VP Global Innovations at AIMIA – the owners of Nectar, the UK’s largest loyalty card scheme where he runs a low-budget ‘skunk works’ style of operation.

In attendance we had the heads of Innovation for a number of well recognised UK and global brands. It was a fascinating conversation…

List of imperatives

Innovation-labsThe speakers shared their thoughts on the perfect formula for breakthrough thinking. High on their list of imperatives was the need for boundaries matched by a clear understanding of the ultimate creative destination. Budgets, project scope, product line synergies and precision timing were all critical considerations – disciplines that anchor projects, focus minds and deliver value.

Back to basics

We went back to basics to ask some very fundamental questions…

Are discrete labs even necessary? And can innovation flourish within a normal business environment? We also went on to explore the merits of a dedicated in-house innovation facility and whether it was necessary to use external resources. Drawing on a rare depth of experience, our speakers explained how a company’s cultural maturity, political appetite for change and the strength of stakeholder engagement directly dictate the actions taken.

A big question of value

Finally, we discussed the core question: how can an innovation lab justify its existence? Many labs conceive and develop new products but lose control over the final delivery process. This significantly adds to the challenge of establishing KPIs and ROI. So how do heads of innovation prove their value?

Respected insights

Now you have a chance to hear the insights of two respected thought-leaders. Gary and Woody have distilled their different approaches to innovation into two short podcasts – each one is around 10 minutes in length. If you’re seriously thinking of asking Santa for an Innovation Lab, we strongly suggest that you click on this link listen first and then decide…

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