We all like winning. Be it your favorite football team (go Lions), a raffle or simply a friendly wager. So, it should come as no surprise that when my new employer, Dassault Systèmes, was ranked #31 by Forbes on its “winners” list of the world’s most innovative companies, I was pretty proud. Note we are ranked #3 when only considering software companies. This list ranking was highest based on an innovation “premium,” reflecting the difference between a company’s current stock price and its imputed value. According to Forbes, Dassault Systèmes has a 35.5% premium, which corresponds to a ranking of 31.
Methodology aside, I think we would all agree that it is better to be innovative than not. Successful new products get designed by innovative people working at innovative companies. The question I pose to you is “What are you doing to increase your innovation ‘quotient’?” What are you doing to work on getting a ranking above 31 next year?
I would suggest there are some things that can be controlled or managed, and some that can’t. To start, you need smart, ambitious employees that have a passion for what they do. Unless you are the CEO or run HR, you probably don’t have much influence with this factor. The next step is what culture does your company have? Are risks rewarded? How safe are your decisions made to add new products or venture into new markets or geographies? These are other variables that are not easy to change, but, can be impacted over a period of time.
In the end, there is really only one remaining area where you can really impact your innovation “quotient” … your IT systems and collaboration capabilities across sites, functions and geographies. How can you implement a change to your existing manufacturing processes? Deploy it across your plants around the world? Can you simulate processes that accelerate time-to-market and then seamlessly move them into production faster than your competition? Does your IT system block innovation or enable it? What if one of your more ambitious manufacturing engineers came up with a great idea on how to improve cycle times within your production process … could you validate and implement the necessary process changes tomorrow? In a week? A month?
If not, then you might have an opportunity for improvement that can positively impact your company’s innovation capability. Some manufacturers can now make a process change in as little as 15 minutes, and can distribute that new process across 10 sites in less than 4 hours! Think about it. The ability to execute is just as important as coming up with the next great idea. In fact, I would argue it is more important, as the creative “pool” of where new ideas come from will quickly dry up if no new processes can be easily implemented. It just isn’t worth the effort to raise your hand if your idea will most likely get lost in the bureaucracy of how process improvement is conducted at your organization.
So what are you going to do about it? I challenge you to take the first step today to examine what opportunities now exist to improve your operational agility and manufacturing responsiveness to changing processes quickly and easily. You might be surprised as to what new opportunities for innovation, profit and market expansion suddenly become available.
 The Innovation Premium is a measure of how much investors have bid up the stock price of a company above the value of its existing business based on expectations of future innovative results (new products, services and markets). Members of the list must have $10 billion in market capitalization, spend at least 2.5% of revenue on R&D and have seven years of public data.