How to Prioritize Innovation Work

More and more established companies are beginning to recognize the serious threat of disruption startups and younger companies are bringing to the industry. In an effort to keep up and complete, several companies are carving out an innovation lab, scale back process and oversight to help re-create the faster-speed and creativity found in many startups. However, after new teams are created or an innovation outpost is established, many get stuck.

In a recent study we conducted on hurdles to corporate innovation, one of the common problems named was a lack of vetting process for how projects are chosen. In short, teams struggle to know what they should be doing. In our interviews we heard two common approaches to vetting projects.

1) “Because I said so.”

Several cited receiving one-off initiatives subjectively chosen by executive leadership. “Because we don’t have strong metrics to apply to projects to determine the value, sometimes it’s just the boss’s opinion that determines where we focus,” the Senior Advisor at a large hospital research center shared with us; “If John says we’re going to work on this, than this is what we are going to work on.” Another interviewee shared that getting funding is essentially a game of mixing and matching executives with budget with ideas they liked: “It’s not very objective. It just depends on people’s whims– you’re looking for a sugar daddy to keep you funded. There’s no other rhyme or reason.”

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