Benefits for Innovation Leaders through the Executive Work Mat

Benefits for Innovation Leaders through the Executive Work MatOver the last six days we’ve introduced an innovation framework (called the Executive Innovation Work Mat) comprised of a number of innovation domains.  The work to implement such an innovation framework is significant. What are the benefits can be expected from these fully engaged, highly aligned innovation domains?  Increased transparency and alignment, reducing risk and uncertainty are certainly part of this value of establishing an integrated framework.  Corporate cultures and innovation environments which embrace innovation rather than resist it, resulting in accelerated idea development and implementation.  Experienced teams working in a cohesive context with familiar innovation tools, resulting in better ideas delivered in less time with less cost.  Finally having each person fully engaged and accurately rewarded, which means you capitalize on all of your intellectual assets.

The power of the right innovation mechanisms and frameworks

As the pace of change increases, competition increases and it becomes increasingly more difficult to differentiate your products and services, innovation becomes ever more important and valuable.  Yet far too often innovation is uncertain, risky, and poorly defined and structured.  Companies that wish to sustain successful innovation must create mechanisms that simplify innovation activities, removing risk, increasing speed and improving outcomes.  The seven domains we’ve introduced within the workmat provide a framework for innovation success.  Executives who understand their role in shaping innovation frameworks and activities, and, more importantly, increasing opportunities and engagement for the entire organization based on this framework will drive better and more sustained innovation outcomes.

A well thought through innovation framework that is clearly articulated from the top, then cascaded down the organization for it to be further ‘fleshed out’ within the organization, will immeasurably help innovation in the alignment to strategic goals and required attention. A  framework that can align, that can engage, and can offer a common set of references, clearly provided by the CEO and his leadership  team delivers a valuable contribution to dispel areas of uncertainty, can steer, guide and determine the essential domains have lasting value.  Such a framework bridges that often missing element of conveying the top managements desire and commitment to innovation’s momentum. This will work down the organization to plug into and generate much-needed identification, to energize innovation as the trigger ‘force’ essential for framing growth through innovation.

Laying out the benefits of such an integrated work mat approach

What benefits are possible, and what benefits should an organization expect, if the senior team commits to leveraging the work mat and sustaining innovation focus, structure and climate?  Innovation isn’t necessarily an outcome or benefit – it is how we describe the process to create interesting, relevant new products, services and business models that accelerate organic growth, disrupt adjacent markets or create significant differentiation.  The work mat defines the areas of focus; it is the combination of all of these domains that create the innovation framework necessary to accelerate innovation.

Four Major Benefits stand out

Your team will receive four major benefits from an investment in an executive workmat exercise:

  1. First, as an executive team you will create alignment, growing cohesion with a consistent innovation framework that reduces barriers and uncertainties for innovators.
  2. Second, you demonstrate your commitment and engagement, which increases visibility and lowers risk, encouraging greater innovation and creative ideas.
  3. Third, you establish innovation as a core competency and discipline, building the necessary skills and competencies for innovation throughout the company.
  4. Fourth, you align compensation and cultural issues which creates incentives for innovation.

All of these benefits add up to more speed, increased agility, increasing flexibility for new, relevant products and services that increase organic growth, establishes a growing sustainability and differentiation that can set you apart from others.

The goal in providing this series on the Executive Innovation Work Mat

Our goal in this series has been twofold.  First, to define the important role that executives must play for innovation to succeed, a role we believe is often overlooked or poorly executed.  Second, to provide a framework that defines the skills, capabilities and actions necessary to perform the role effectively.

While CEO’s or other senior leaders responsible for innovation don’t need to dominate innovation activities, they do need to fill this critical role to:

  • link innovation to corporate strategies,
  • communicate the importance of innovation consistently and demonstrate their engagement,
  • align the corporate culture and compensation programs to innovation goals and activities
  • create innovation governance frameworks.

While few executives will conceive the ideas that become best-selling products and services, executives must orchestrate and lead the rest of the organization in building a culture that embraces innovation.  Without that sustained engagement and leadership, innovation will become a short-term, discrete activity rather than a sustained business discipline.

Linking innovation to corporate strategy, ensuring the appropriate focus on innovation in balance with other key initiatives and establishing corporate governance, communication and language, and shifting the corporate culture to embrace innovation are all key responsibilities of a senior executive.  Without these efforts, which must be undertaken by a senior executive, innovation cannot take root in an organization.  If executives understand the role that they must play for innovation to succeed, and fill this role effectively, innovation can become a driving force for growth in the organization.

Offered is a compelling structured approach to innovation for its leadership

The Executive Innovation Work Mat will help you define the important attributes of your management style, improve all aspects of innovation that you directly influence and create a context and environment that supports and sustains innovation, simplifying the work of innovation teams.

The Work Mat provides a compelling structured approach for senior executives in order to build, extend and sustain an innovation capability.  Starting with the most strategic goals of your business, it links and aligns innovation to strategy, it explores the critical aspects of any senior innovation strategic framework, and addresses the critical aspects so as to provide a holistic approach to innovation, reducing uncertainty, reducing risk and increasing your chance to help your company innovate consistently. The end outcome of this work mat approach provides the innovation leadership and guidance to your organization to ‘frame’ the innovation activity, allowing it to be articulated throughout the organization and provide the necessary understanding needed to perform the innovation task more effectively. It brings alignment and identification to the important role innovation fills within organizations for building growth and sustaining it.

The Executive Innovation Work Mat series

This article is the last in a series of seven articles that discusses the Executive Innovation Work Mat approach and the seven domains for innovation alignment.

In this set of articles we are discussing specifically each of the seven domains for innovation alignment, our thinking in the rationale and benefits for this combined framework.

We provided initially as the overarching piece in these seven articles an introduction to “the seven domains for innovation alignment”, and then we provided the justification on “the role that senior leaders must fill for innovation success,” as our thinking.

Then we explored each of the domains, combing where it was appropriate .We looked at the need for innovation to have Strategic Alignment (domain one) as well as develop the context for innovation, the communication techniques and encourage an emerging common language (domain two). This was then followed as we discuss the need for having the appropriate Structure, Processes and Functional design (domain three) and the importance of Governance (domain four). The next two domains were Culture (domain 5) and the Environment (domain 6) and why these need to be worked through. The final domain discussed where People align with the motivations and measures (domain 7) for relating to innovation

This is the final article within this series that summarizes the benefits of having an integrated framework delivered through the Executive Innovation Work Mat with our conclusions.

We would encourage you to read all seven articles to fully relate to this
The above link contains all seven articles on one page, as listed below:

The Seven Essential Domains for Innovation Leadership- a Work Mat Approach

The Critical Role that Leaders Must Fill for Innovation Success

Striving for Strategic Alignment, Context and Common Language

Critical Structures, Process, Design & Governance are always Needed

Culture & Environment for Innovation- Required Attitudes and Needs

People, Motivators and Measures Deliver Innovation

Benefits for Innovation Leadership Delivered in the Executive Work Mat

image credit: paul hobcraft and jeffrey phillips


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Paul HobcraftPaul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities.


Jeffrey PhillipsJeffrey Phillips is a senior leader at OVO Innovation. OVO works with large distributed organizations to build innovation teams, processes and capabilities. Jeffrey is the author of “Make us more Innovative”, and innovateonpurpose.blogspot.com.

This entry was posted in Build Capability, Leadership, Leadership & Infrastructure, Policy, Processes & Tools, Strategy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Benefits for Innovation Leaders through the Executive Work Mat

  1. Pingback: Innovation leadership – a structured approach | radicalengineers.com

  2. Ralph Ohr says:

    Thanks for sharing your great work, Jeffrey and Paul – I just re-read the entire Executive Work Mat post series.

    I think it’s a very useful and well elaborated framework, addressing and integrating the different building blocks or domains that need to be aligned to yield sustainable innovation.

    In particular, I’d like to highlight two points that seem important to me:

    - Language / context to be positioned in the center: proper communication and shared understanding is an important pillar, all other activities have to be based upon. It’s the “glue” that holds everything together. That’s related to the second point:
    - You emphasize: People deliver innovation, nothing else! Rather than isolate this focus in one domain, you have recognized that this needs to be reflected across al domains. People make innovation happen.

    Further, yet another study has confirmed the issue you have been addressing with this series:

    “the results suggest that the most important factors for success are the extent to which innovation is integrated in corporate strategy and to which company leaders support and engage with innovation efforts.”
    https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Strategy/Innovation/Making_innovation_structures_work_McKinsey_Global_Survey_results_3018

    Looking forward to discuss your highly topical work with Paul face-to-face later this week.

  3. Pingback: Innovation Excellence | The Critical Role that Senior Leaders must fill for Innovation Success

  4. Pingback: Innovation Excellence | Striving for Strategic Alignment, Context and Common Language

  5. Pingback: Innovation Excellence | People, Motivations and Measures Deliver Innovation

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