Innovation is a highly sought-after prize for many organisations. The concept of innovation presents them with a potential roadmap to the future, contributing to their on-going relevance in today’s ever changing market place.

From Facebook to Uber, these billion-dollar companies have taken an innovative concept and turned it into a recipe for success, by challenging the norm and pioneering new fronts in technology, services and products. With terms like fail fast, innovation and disruption are often seen as the only ways to have this level of success, but is that true and what does this mean for an established organisation? Can an incumbent crack the innovation code or does the nature of disruption mean that they are dinosaurs who are only destined to become extinct?

The biggest myth of innovation is that it comes only from a place of start-up disruption and is intrinsically tied with the concept of failing fast, however the concept of failing fast is really a reference to an organisation’s appetite for risk. A smaller, more agile company may have less extensive systems, or fiscal overheads and thus a higher appetite for risk, but conversely, due to their immaturity they may become a casualty of slumps in the market. While it may have taken 1,000 attempts to create the lightbulb, it may be said that in the modern start-up world this is done by starting 1,000 companies that embrace risk and strive for greatness.

Whilst innovation and risk do go together, larger organisations will more than often attempt to minimise this risk by achieving innovation through the acquisition of other organisations. Purchasing IP and attempting to absorb innovation fails to acknowledge that an organisation may have an existing untapped potential within and when fostered correctly, the deeper domain knowledge of its staff can be far more valuable than retrofitting, or purchasing any overnight technology trend.

So, can incumbent organisations be innovative and beat back the start-up unicorns looking to disrupt their space?

Without question, an established organisation that wants to be innovation focused can do so, however for an established organisation to truly be innovative it requires both the appetite and capability for risk acceptance. The most capable staff in the world will not be able to innovate in an organisation which is completely risk adverse. Conversely, an organisation who embraces innovation as the key to its future will not be able to achieve eureka moments without internal capabilities given the opportunity to explore and fail without the fear of retribution.

Innovation is built into our DNA, with humans looking to stand on the shoulders of those who came before them to make a bigger and brighter future. We have all heard the phrase ‘not reinvent the wheel’ but this is the place where innovation comes from – looking to what we are doing today, having the capacity of questioning the norm, regardless of the risk, and to find the best tools for the job, and not the fastest horse.

PS+C Glass looks at innovation as an important capability for every organisation, however fostering an environment that maintains acceptable levels of risk for innovation to flourish is a significant risk is itself. Using Glass’s proven Innovation Enablement Strategy and Innovation Runway Program, we are able to guide our clients safely through these risks allowing the full potential of disruptive innovation to be realised by any organisation.