According to the recent results of the annual Booz and Company study, spending more on R&D won’t drive results. Surprising thing aside, it says the most crucial factors are strategic alignment and a culture that supports, drumroll please, innovation! Now all this makes perfect sense until we go about implementing such advice especially when it comes to company culture.
First things first, there should be no letup on innovation unless your company is looking for a surefire way to be insignificant. But the elements that make up a true winning innovative company strategy is more that just R&D spending. In fact, as Apple has demonstrated, even with their consistent underspending on R&D compared to peers, their revenue growth outperformed companies across a broad range of measures, not excluding profitability.
More from the study:
“This year, we took a different vantage point, analyzing the ways that critical organizational systems and cultural attributes support those capability sets that are most likely to promote innovation success. The results suggest that the ways the R&D managers and corporate decision makers think about their new products and services – and how they feel about intangibles such as risk, openness, and collaboration – are critical for success.”
The study reaffirms that company culture is very important – that it serves not only as an excellent foundation but also serves to propel and enable the company to go beyond strategic implementation well into successfully strengthening an organization’s innovation mindset.
Which brings us to another note about the increasing digitization of what we’ve come to refer as traditional business. Today, companies are increasingly under the mercy of technology that it is difficult to separate the tools with achieving business efficiency and productivity. It is interesting to revisit a study done a few months ago which reveals what makes a company good at IT.
“In line with prior research, standard inputs like capital, labor and IT were strongly associated with output. However, some firms vastly outperformed others, even when controlling for all the standard inputs. We found that several of the management practices could explain the differences in performance. The strongest relationship, one that held up across all our analyses, was between higher output and greater emphasis on data-driven decision making, the companies reported they had the data they needed and actually uses it to make decisions (instead of relying more on intuition and expertise), were the ones with the highest productivity and profitability.”
Well, you might ask, isn’t every company data-driven these days? As the study unearths, not all companies are ready or willing to adopt ‘best practices’ even if these ‘best practices’ are already universally recognized. So what gives?
At the risk of sounding cliche, we’ll just let Pixar spell it out for you.