Canadian business leaders want innovation - but many aren’t planning for it

70% of organizations admit they have no defined innovation strategy

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(Calgary, 9 November 2015) In a global world where technology is rapidly evolving, competition is high and the business environment is in many ways uncertain, Canadian companies admit innovation must play a role in a sustainable future. But according to a market study conducted by EY, in partnership with the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Calgary, many business leaders struggle with a strategic approach to developing and implementing innovative ideas.

“There are a wide range of reasons to look to innovation as a way to improve and grow a business. From increasing profits or environmental performance, to reducing costs, to increasing process efficiency, each sector has unique reasons about why and with whom they innovate” says Lance Mortlock, EY’s National Strategy Services Leader. “But there needs to be a shift in where ideas are coming from. Traditionally companies have relied on R&D departments, but great ideas are also coming from employees, customers and by partnering with other organizations – even competitors.”

According to Innovation: from ideation to activation – A Canadian cross-sector market study, 93% of executives from more than 250 Canadian companies admit innovation is either important or very important to their growth. But 70% say they don’t separate their innovation strategy from their larger business strategy. At the same time, most don’t have a leader accountable for innovation, nor an innovation process or framework, and only 18% of companies indicated they have a specific innovation budget.

“All these factors, combined, are holding companies back,” explains Mortlock. “With a defined innovation strategy, organizations can increase the speed of adoption and implementation, and reap the rewards of innovation sooner.”

Mortlock continues: “Once they start to pursue innovation, companies need to focus on other factors as well, such as finding the right people and even shifting culture within their organization. Only by anticipating and planning for these challenges within a defined innovation process and framework, can organizations effectively start to manage their innovation.”

“Effective and sustainable innovation doesn’t just happen spontaneously,” says Professor Peter Sherer at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary. “It requires thought, planning and careful execution. And when done well, it solves complex problems and drives growth and optimization within an organization.”

When considering how to incorporate innovation into a workplace, EY outlines six building blocks to consider:

Strategy: Setting goals to complement a larger organizational strategy.
Governance: Having someone responsible for innovation and execution.
People: Find and invest in the right individuals and teams.
Ideas: Encourage and support innovation processes.
Process: Facilitate idea generation, development, and implementation.
Culture: Develop and organization that fosters risk-taking.

Lance Mortlock - EY Canada Strategy Services Leader - Innovation: from ideation to activation

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