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Innovation behaviour: do you recognize your organization in one of these 5 innovation archetypes?

How do you innovate as an organization

Let us help you by bringing some order to the innovation chaos by creating insight in how you innovate as an organization.

Ank van Wylick

Partner Advisory, FinTech lead

KPMG Nederland


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We understand that innovation is complex and unpredictable. Let us help you by bringing some order to this chaos by creating insight in how you innovate as an organization. Do you recognize your organization in one, or a combination of these stereotypes of innovation behavior?


The Thinker Organization

  • Is innovation incorporated in the strategy of your organization?
  • Is a well-defined innovation process present?
  • Do you notice that you and your colleagues would rather submit a report about a new product or service instead of creating a real prototype and experimenting with it in the field?

Then you might be the thinker organization!

As a thinker organization, your strength is to think about and to organize innovation. However, within this process there is little room for experimenting and testing, which makes it hard to get out of your chair and actually do something! Such a pity, because you really just want to leave your desk and come up with something great.

What to do? Create a do-mentality!

  • Translate strategy into actionable goals to motivate employees on all levels
  • Introduce an internal start-up where it is safe to experiment and even fail
  • Create a culture of doing vs thinking by encouraging rapid prototyping within the innovation process

The Connected Organization

  • Is your organization involved in every collaboration you can think of?
  • Do you feel like innovation is completely embedded in the organizational culture?
  • If you think about it, do actual innovation results lag behind?

Then you could be working in the connected organization!

The connected organization makes sure it is involved in every innovation community and loves to talk about innovation. The culture of this organization focuses on collaboration and creativity. However, the connections and culture rarely turn out into actual innovations because a structured decision making process is missing.

What to do? Create an innovation engine!

  • Implement a decision making process in line with the innovation strategy
  • Dedicate resources to innovation and reward the organization for achieving results
  • Define selection criteria for partners to filter out invaluable collaborations

The Machine Organization

  • When you want to innovate, do you encounter many administrative hurdles when doing so?
  • Is your organization risk-averse in its nature (think of a bank or an insurance company)?
  • Is a hierarchical culture present and are processes standardized?

You seem to be part of the machine organization!

In the machine organization, processes and risk procedures are highly standardized. These procedures create risk-adversity and a barrier to fast innovation, which leads to long development times. If only there was a way to speed things up…

How to do so?

  • Open the innovation funnel, focus on idea generation and have agile validation iterations
  • Stimulate collaboration (internal and external) and make innovation a shared effort for all
  • Involve partners/clients in innovation to share responsibility and reduce risks

The Speedboat Organization

  • Is innovation done abundantly and fast and do you know how to achieve results?
  • Do you work in a flexible organization in which nothing seems impossible?
  • However, are there too many projects happening all at once to have a clear overview?

You possess characteristics which match the speedboat organization!

The speedboat organization innovates abundantly and fast. Communication lines between employees are short which makes the organization flexible. However, results are often based on luck: they are big hits or big misses. Besides, no priorities are given within the innovation portfolio.

What to do? Achieve focus and control!

  • Define a clear innovation strategy and focus areas in order to allocate priorities to innovation projects
  • Introduce the stage-gate process and use available metrics for decision making
  • Focus on sustainable growth and robust development by selecting `big hits' and mature these concepts

The Organic Changing Organization

  • Do you feel like everyone is innovating his or her own thing?
  • Does this result into many incremental innovations, but are these not as impactful as desired?
  • Is there no place to go to when you want to make your innovation the next big project of the organization?

You are possibly working in the organic changing organization!

Within the organic changing organization, all individuals are intrinsically motivated to innovate. This results into many innovation initiatives, which are mainly small and incremental. Due to lack of communication these projects stay small and are not enlarged to make the impact they could have. Such a pity when there are so many innovation initiatives to choose from.

Possible interventions to create disruption:

  • Introduce a (digital) innovation platform and choose lighthouse projects
  • Introduce tools and methods that facilitate innovation, selection and (portfolio) management in order to create more disruptive innovations
  • Define specific areas of focus for innovation

Want to know more about your innovation behavior?

We present you: the innovation capability maturity model!

Besides the three-horizon model of McKinsey, which guides you on what types of innovation to pursue, and the stage-gate model of Cooper, which guides your idea to launch process, we aim to introduce a complementary model: the innovation capability maturity model. It states that to improve your innovation capability as an organization, you can mature in five subcategories of the innovation capability: innovation strategy, ecosystem, process & governance, culture and return on innovation. Based on these sub-capabilities, we have defined the innovation archetypes mentioned in this article.

innovation capabilities


For more information contact:

Vincent Pluijmers

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