Innovation: It’s Not About Creativity, but About Management Capability.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 | Category :
    • Innovation
    • Blogs

Are Your Leaders Ready to Innovate?

By Peter Mulford, Executive Vice President

Peter Mulford Photo

Recognized as critical to remain competitive on the global stage, innovation is a top-ranked challenge for CEOs everywhere in the world. Most often, the problem is neither a lack of resources nor of creativity, and it has little to do with internal organization and processes. Innovation is a leadership issue, and like all business disciplines, innovation can be learned, practiced and mastered.

Creating a Culture of Innovation


Innovation is the discipline of serving needs in new ways that create value. It is a core capability that allows firms to sustain competitive advantage and grow, but it requires openness to disciplined experimentation and uncertainty. It requires looking at customers and markets in new ways and an ability to simultaneously scale today’s business model while directing resources to discover tomorrow’s. Most of all, innovation requires a willingness to challenge the assumptions that may have made the company successful in the first place.

So now what? Challenged to accelerate innovation and pressured to deliver results, how can organizations build the leadership capabilities and culture critical to success?

For a leading port investor, developer & operator, immersing leaders in an experiential workshop, compressing months and years of high-risk innovation projects into a few short hours, proved impactful.

Innovation Taught, Practiced and Mastered

Facing slow GDP growth and price pressure, a large port investor, developer and operator is committed to re-igniting the culture of innovation that made the company successful in the first place.

Moving to achieve this goal, the company established an innovation task force responsible for bringing new ideas and concepts to the board. After two years of work, the output did not meet expectations, and despite escalating pressure from the firm’s managing director, innovation stalled. However, a robust customized experiential learning program successfully moved the initiative forward.

Immersed in a high-impact business simulation, leaders across global regions and all lines of business stepped outside of their traditional roles, collaborated in new ways, and worked together to fully understand the process and capabilities key to innovation.

In the competitive and interactive program, the port operator’s leaders faced a challenge. Competing in small teams, they were responsible for developing and executing an innovation, carrying break-through ideas from infancy all the way to commercialization. Successfully trying new things with uncertain outcomes was a stretch for the group. Fortunately, within the simulated environment, the associated risks were not at stake.

Through the business simulation engagement, leaders:

  • Experienced the comprehensive challenges and opportunities related to developing and executing innovations first-hand
  • Developed the capabilities critical to success in the future
  • Laid the foundation for a company-wide culture of innovation
  • Developed actionable insights, tools and techniques to improve their effectiveness on the job

Reflecting on the impact of the innovation initiative, the President of the Central and Eastern European Division commented, “The workshop was invigorating, fluid and seamless. The program carried huge depth and insight and stimulated thought, discussion and dynamism amongst leaders, which will benefit the business for years.”

Innovation: Today & Tomorrow

Does your organization have the managerial know-how to innovate? As a leader, how are you overcoming today’s innovation challenges and what steps are you taking now to enable you’re company’s innovation efforts in the future? We look forward to exploring these topics with business leaders, co-creating solutions, and sharing the insights with all of you.

Building a Culture of Innovation

Learn more about how a leading port operator is re-igniting a culture of innovation.
Download the Case Study

About the Author: Peter Mulford is an Executive Vice President and the Chief Innovation Officer at BTS.


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