On the Road to Innovation Maturity: The Mindjet Model

Filed Under Innovation

gears hand header
Harvey Wade

by
April 7, 2014

Innovation in an organisation is not so much an activity; it’s more of a journey. However, you don’t get to the journey’s end of innovation, as by its very nature, it continuously creates new horizons and new peaks to reach.

Bringing Change, Driving Results

When you are on a journey, however, you want to know where you are and where you are going. It’s the same with the expedition of any innovation programme. It is difficult to know how you are doing and make comparisons, because most innovation programmes are new and different, and additionally, there is usually only one innovation programme in an organisation.

How can you tell if you are making headway in your innovation journey, or just heading very fast down a dead-end alley? How can you tell what you are doing well, and what needs to improve?

Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “If you do the same thing over and over again, don’t be surprised that you always get the same results.”

And it’s quite accurate. One of the more common things I hear from our clients is that they want improved results in their innovation programmes. Yet, they don’t change the way their programme operates. Guess what — it’s not going to get better by hope alone! Often, changes aren’t made for one of two reasons: either the impact of a change isn’t known, or it’s unclear what aspects of the programme need to be changed in order to make a real difference. It is very risky to make changes without understanding the impact they may have.

How can you identify what needs to change, how to change it and be confident of the result? If you are not confident, it’s very unlikely that you will be able to convince your stakeholders to agree to the changes.

The Mindjet Innovation Maturity Model

To build confidence in the direction and progression of your innovation excursion, we developed the Mindjet Innovation Maturity Model. This model enables companies to gain insight into the maturity and capabilities of their innovation programme, and is the foundation of the assessment processes we use.

At Mindjet, we believe that there are ten key dimensions of successful and mature innovation programmes. If you ignore a dimension, your programme will not be as successful as it could be.

Let’s explore each of these dimensions:

  1. Strategy. What is the focus of innovation and how does it align with the corporate objectives?
  2. Sponsorship.  Do your sponsors and stakeholders enable your programme to grow?
  3. Governance. Who’s responsible for the regulation and control of the programme?
  4. Process. Is your innovation process formalized, and is it widely used and communicated?
  5. Culture. Is the culture receptive to change, and does the organization encourage experimentation and innovative behaviors?
  6. Engagement. Who are you engaging with, and how?
  7. Skills & Capabilities. Are you giving your people the ability to think and act creatively to solve critical business problems?
  8. Implement & Execute. What resources and methods does your organisation have to implement ideas?
  9. Measurements & Metrics. Is innovation being measured, and is success clearly defined and communicated?
  10. Tools & Technology. Do you have an infrastructure of innovation tools and technologies, and a broad set of methodologies on how to best use them?

Each dimension can grow and develop through time, experience, and activity. Each dimension starts at a Novice level, moving through to Experienced, and finally, ending at Optimized.

When you get to an Optimized level, it doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels, but it will mean that you have a fully functioning innovation dimension that is driving tremendous value.

When we put the dimensions and levels together, it gives us the Mindjet Innovation Maturity Model, which is shown below. At the intersection of a dimension and a maturity level, there is a characteristic that provides an indicator of dimension maturity.

MJ Inno Mat Model Chart

Investigating Dimensions

To demonstrate the Mindjet Innovation Maturity Model in operation, let’s look at one of the dimensions, Engagement.

  • At a Novice level of engagement, the programme is connecting with a small group of people, but there is no linkage or collaboration with other areas of the business. This is needed to bring diversity of thought and ideas. The indicator is “Siloed & Limited.”
  • At an Intermediate level, departments and teams are agreeing to work together. The crowd is engaged and beginning to collaborate regularly. There is ideation, but teams are also beginning to work together to make ideas happen. The indicator here is “Internal Collaboration.”
  • Lastly, the Optimized level. Here, people are not only engaged, but are co-creating externally with customers and suppliers to identify, build, and implement ideas that solve key problems for a mutual benefit. The indicator here is “Internal & External Co-creation.”

At a macro level, our model can be used to assess the maturity of each dimension in an innovation programme. The model can also be used at a departmental or divisional level too, especially to compare and contrast approaches, which can lead to some very interesting discussions.

When we work with clients to assess their innovation programmes, we utilise different activities, such as in-depth face-to-face interviews, on-line tailored surveys, facilitated workshops, and other deep-dive activities.

This enables us to objectively identify the maturity level of an innovation programme; or, where the programme is on the path to optimization. However, it also demonstrates how the innovation programme can develop; what dimensions are adequate, but can be improved. This is used to develop a “future state” vision for the programme, as well as the appropriate activities to get there.

In summary, using the Mindjet Innovation Maturity Model will:

  1. Increase understanding of the organisation to plan, design, and scale innovation programmes.
  2. Enable benchmarking of innovation capabilities, as well as identify strong and weak areas.
  3. Build confidence and refocus innovation activities to drive greater success.
  4. Create clarity on the future vision and direction of the innovation programme.

If you are interested in finding out more, please let us know in the comments.

[rpuplugin]
  • Sanjay Abraham

    A big challenge to Enterprise innovation is the misconception that innovation is serendipitous. And you know sporadic events don’t need any process maturity. It just happens out of nothing. This idea has to change first. Innovation is actually a culture which has to be nurtured constantly through people, processes and platforms.

  • Harvey Wade

    Hi ace, thanks for the comment. The assessment that we run, which is based on our model, scores the maturity level of each dimension. By looking at the overall result, an “average” maturity level for the programme can be identified. This maturity “score’ is specific to the company, and the key is that it identifies next steps for the company. Oh, I spelt programme the British way! ;-)

  • ace

    Harvey – does the Innovation Maturity Model result in a score, that is a singular number to benchmark against? If there isn’t can one be used? Does the maturity differ across industries or across the maturity of the company itself – start-up vs well honed business? And I guess it goes without saying that you have misspelled program:)

  • Pingback: On the Road to Innovation Maturity: The Mindjet Model – via @Mindjet’s Conspire #ideasquad | NextUpon()