Avoiding any Extreme Approach is More Conducive to Innovation

What operation model should an innovation program adopt? The two common models observed in the industry are centralized and de-centralized. The centralized models usually consist of a small ‘innovation cell’ tasked to come up with innovative solutions. In a de-centralized model, the focus is on crowd sourcing, innovation at every level, open ideation, etc. Both these approaches have their merits and demerits. We have observed that both completely centralized and completely decentralized approaches are not very effective.

A completely centralized program is limited by the intellectual firepower and imagination of the small team tasked to innovate. Such teams can also be dogmatic in their approach or their sense of priorities. Therefore, any such team, no matter how brilliant, is likely to be limited in comparison with the entire workforce of the organization. On the other hand, a completely de-centralized approach is likely to be chaotic and will often lose any alignment with the strategic objectives and direction of the organization. As a result, they tend to be ineffective and may end up spending time and money on projects that may not be the priority.

Therefore, neither of the approaches is effective when it comes to driving successful innovation. It is more effective to have a small core team that ensures the projects taken up for incubation are in line with the organizational objectives, while every member of the organization is encouraged and given the opportunity to innovate.