Innovation Grade: Improvement Needed

Sept. 18, 2007
Only 42% of organizations have the capabilities needed to make innovation a discipline, says recent study.

With innovation regularly touted as the saving grace of American manufacturing as actual production increasingly moves overseas, one would think that U.S. firms were zeroed in on improving their innovation efforts.

And maybe they are. But if so, new research suggests that their efforts are struggling. According to a survey by consulting firm Futurethink, which measures innovation across four capabilities -- ideas, strategy, process and climate -- only 42% of organizations have the capabilities needed to make innovation a discipline.

"They simply are not doing all they should be in order to unleash innovation within their four walls," writes Futurethink in its research report, "Cracking the Code of Effective Innovation." "The upside is that there is significant room for improvement."

Futurethink outlines three immediate actions for organizations that are struggling with innovation efforts:

  • Diagnose your firm's innovation efforts. Take a step back and see where your innovation efforts are strong and weak. (Futurethink offers an innovation diagnostic at
  • Research five similarly sized firms. Go outside of your industry and look for successful innovators that are the same size as your firm. Determine what practices they are doing successfully that you can adopt.
  • Meet with those who matter. Start talking about strategy and process with your firm's relevant people. While ownership must eventually come from the top, the conversation about important innovation ideas can begin anywhere.

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About the Author

Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

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