Below is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of the the recently published “The Open Innovation Marketplace”, written by InnoCentive Founder Alph Bingham and CEO and President Dwayne Spradlin. In this chapter, the authors discuss the meaning of a Challenge, and reveal the 6 things that make a good Challenge. The entire chapter is now available for download here. For a limited time, Chapter 3 will also remain available, and can be found here.
“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful.
Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening,
ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will
never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from
discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
—Sir Winston Churchill in Painting as a Pastime
Imagine every department with a clear picture of its needs, options, and work in process. Imagine each decision being made by managers bound to driving the optimal outcome regardless of where the resources reside. Imagine the vibrancy of an organization whose singular focus is driving performance excellence and not measuring success by patents issued, full-time headcount, or the size of its R&D budget. In such an organization, the CEOs agenda is that of the investor: How can the firm drive the best returns? The CFO not only tracks the business, he also manages risk and opportunity by measuring the effectiveness of all parts of the organization to deliver against its goals—in business and economic terms—with innovation held to the same performance standards as every other part of the organization.
Whether it is marketing, information technology, product development, or manufacturing, every department understands its problems and challenges and its various channels for problem solving, and has the skills to manage the process effectively, take action, and create solutions to drive enterprise value. Too often organizations measure their success by % of sales spent on R&D, how many patents they own, or whether the leading academics in their fields are on retainer. However, in today’s economy, these should all matter much less to the management of the organization or to the shareholders than whether they can get a new product to market before the competition and dominate the category or whether resources are being managed to ensure the firm can aggressively pursue new business opportunities when they emerge. The prevailing mentality of most established businesses slows, if not discourages, innovation while increasing its costs. Ultimately the shareholders pay the price.
Challenge Driven Innovation represents a dramatic evolution in enabling more effective, efficient, and predictable innovation. And our experience with businesses suggests there is enormous benefit simply in managers and employees better defining and managing their own problems. The transformational change, however, is accomplished through the remaking of the organization into the Challenge Driven Enterprise, where the most difficult problems can be solved, effort is aligned with strategic goals, all talent inside and outside of the organization is brought to bear to deliver on the mission, and sustained performance improvement is possible. The Challenge Driven Enterprise represents a new vision with far-reaching implications that can improve the speed, agility, and efficiency of business. It enables new modes of innovation while creating the flexibility to capitalize on new business opportunities. Industry leaders will be those that successfully apply these concepts universally, from business strategy to the manufacturing plant floor.
Read More: Download this chapter by clicking here.