Aecus: Innovation important to 91% of organisations

21 April 2015

Innovation is cited as important by more than 91% of organisations, however, only roughly a third of organisations claim to be successful in delivering innovation, a recent study by Aecus and HP finds. Issues holding back innovation range from a lack of available internal resources to a lack of leadership to enable or drive innovation.

In a recently released white paper, titled ‘The Innovation Agenda’, outsourcing consultancy Aecus and HP joined forces to assess the innovation landscape. The study involved a survey, and follow up interviews, of 84 organisations across both public and private domains, with organisations of between 51-100 and 250,000+ in size taking part. The research sets out to among others grasp what innovation is, how important it is for organisations, and how far they are successfully implementing innovation.

Role - Job function

The report highlights that innovation is a term that is difficult to tie to a single phenomenon, however, the respondents see innovation primarily as cost and efficiency focused, products and services focused, or in transformational terms. Innovation then is implicated in doing things faster, better, cheaper; leveraging technology with vision to provide the most efficient services and products; and transforming through new ideas, processes, and technologies that provide major progress for the enterprise.

Innovative success
Business see innovation as a critical factor for future success. Of the respondents, 40% replied that innovation is critically important for their future outcome, while 51% said that it will determine how successful they are. Only 1% said it was of no importance. Not only is innovation seen as important today – 82% said it will only be becoming more important in the next five years, while 18% expects no change.

How important is innovation

Despite the fact that innovation is seen as (critically) important for 91% of organisations, the ability to deliver and harness innovations varies across respondents. Only 6% name themselves as very successful, while 25% report regular and major innovative achievements. The largest chunk (48%) of respondents has ‘some success’, while around 22% has limited success or is not at all successful in delivering innovations.

How successful do you feel your organization is in harnessing innovation

Functional innovation
While businesses have mixed success in the delivery of innovation, different functional areas within businesses show varying results in terms of driving innovation within a company. The largest overall area of a business that is individually driving innovative success comes from IT, which has the second highest high impact role (a score of 5) at 24%. With the emergence of new technologies and digital channels, this area of an organisation is well positioned to deliver innovative solutions. Not surprisingly the R&D function has the highest impact, scoring 32%,. Engagement has a good 17% at a score of 5, and shows itself as the most generally impactful functional area, with the combined 4 & 5 impact score higher than any other functional area.

Poorly innovative functional areas include HR and Payroll, with only 5% producing high impact innovations, while finance too is a laggard in terms of innovative potential – with a mere 8% taking a major role in driving innovation.

Parts of an organization that drive innovation

Blocking innovation
With innovation ranked as important by the vast majority of organisations, the more reserved rates of successful innovation hint at internal and external barriers limiting the successful fostering of innovation. According the survey results, the biggest issue faced by organisations in developing innovative solutions is the availability of internal resources to implement innovation (57%). While higher priority initiatives was seen as a barrier by 45% of respondents, with 43% of respondents unwilling to take the risks associated with innovations. For 33% of those surveyed, leadership was cited as an issue, with 33% also citing a lack of talent as a barrier to innovation. While for 40% of respondents, bureaucracy was indicated as at issue.

What have been the main challenges to realizing innovation in your organization


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Two thirds of UK employees not empowered enough to innovate

18 March 2019

A culture of equality can drive innovation at work, but only a third of UK employees feel empowered to innovate at present. This demonstrates a significant disconnect between workers and their bosses in the UK, with 76% of business leaders also claiming they empower employees to be innovative.

Despite innovation increasingly being seen as integral to the survival of businesses, innovation remains relatively difficult to achieve. A lagging disconnect between management and staff remains the driving force behind this. One study by PA Consulting previously confirmed that while 66% of companies believe they will not survive without innovation, only 24% said they had the skills needed for that, and only half thought they had the right leadership in place to change that in time.

In order to find a way around this problem, global consultancy Accenture has completed its own study into innovation, polling around 700 bosses and workers across the UK to do so. The key finding of the research is that companies with a culture of equality can see an individual’s willingness and ability to innovate improved by seven times that of the least equitable workplace cultures. At the same time, an innovation mindset is almost twice as high in the most-equal companies as in typical ones.

91% of employees want to innovate but just 34% in typical United Kingdom companies feel empowered to

What remains clear, however, is that most companies are failing to adequately create an equal culture, where staff of all ranks feel comfortable contributing new ideas. 91% of employees want to innovate but just 34% in typical UK companies feel empowered to. That is higher in the most equal companies, where 75% of staff feel confident making suggestions, compared to just 5% of the least equal, and 34% of typical companies. Since those equal companies are comparatively fewer, when averaged out, only a third of UK staff feel they are empowered to innovate.

That figure stands in stark contrast to the perceptions of UK executives, however.  76% of business leaders in Britain believe that they do indeed regularly empower their employees to innovate. As a result, it seems that leaders mistakenly believe that some circumstances encourage innovation more than they actually do. For instance, they overestimate financial rewards and underestimate purpose.

The opportunity which is presented by addressing this divorce is enormous. Accenture calculates that global gross domestic product would increase by up to £6 trillion over 10 years if the innovation mindset in all countries were raised by 10%.Top 10 workplace culture factors - by strength of impact on innovation mindsetAccording to Accenture, the best way to impact positively on a company’s innovation mindset is through the provision of relevant training – associated with a 10.5% uplift to staff’s confidence innovating. Allowing the freedom for employees to be creative followed, contributing an 8.1% boost, while ensuring that training times are flexible and the firm allows a healthy work-life balance both see a more than 7% improvement. Similarly, remote working being available and being common practice will buoy creativity by 6.9% – further demonstrating the importance of flexible working to improve innovation culture at a firm.

Commenting on the report, Rebecca Tully, executive sponsor for Human Capital and Diversity for Accenture in the UK and Ireland, said, “Our research reveals that a workplace culture of equality is an overlooked driver of innovation within companies. By understanding what motivates their employees and fostering an environment where people feel empowered, business leaders have the opportunity to unleash the innovation required to compete effectively in an era of disruption.”

The research came as part of a global survey by Accenture, which queried more than 18,000 professionals in 27 countries and 150 C-suite executives in eight countries. The overall research determined that an empowering environment is by far the most important of the three culture-of-equality categories in increasing an innovation mindset, which consists of six elements: purpose, autonomy, resources, inspiration, collaboration and experimentation. The more empowering the workplace environment, the higher the innovation mindset score.