IQ Survey Reveals Traits of Four Different Innovative Cultures


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SOUTHFIELD—Organizations that make a deliberate choice to build and nourish innovation can earn a significant payoff for their efforts. This conclusion is among the results of the second annual Innovation Quotient (IQ) survey released today by the public accounting, tax and consulting firm Plante Moran and the executive education and innovation training institute NewNorth Center.

Numerous studies have shown the connection between innovation and revenue growth. The IQ survey report released today goes one step further and turns the results of the 2012 survey of more than 550 innovators into a valuable self-improvement guide for the leaders of businesses, not-for-profits, and public sector organizations.

The report identifies four tiers of innovators who demonstrate how organizations can move up the innovation ladder and improve their financial results by adopting the proven practices of innovation-driven companies.

“On average, survey respondents said they generated 16 percent of their revenue from new products or services introduced in the last three years,” said Jeff Mengel, a Plante Moran partner who specializes in manufacturing and distribution and led the IQ survey report team. “Those who achieve superstar status have innovation-hungry cultures we can all learn from.”

  • Accidental innovators: This group dabbles with innovation when a unique idea hits and they have a champion that drags the idea on to commercialization. They were able to generate 11.1 percent of revenue from new products or services, and typically initiate new products, services or processes in response to comments from customers and constituents or a need to improve quality, rather than from a culture of innovation.
  • Disciplined innovators: This group establishes systems such as cross-functional work teams, budgets, work plans, and inclusion of innovation in the strategic plan. Their innovation ideas are more likely to be driven by strategy, entering new markets and increasing operational flexibility and capacity. The disciplined innovators generated 15 percent of revenue from new products in the past three years.
  • Top innovators: This group generated 21 percent of their revenue from products or services that were introduced in the last three years. They embody innovation throughout the organization, starting with corporate strategy, and they had more registered innovation (trademarks, copyrights and patents) and types of innovation (product, process, and systems).
  • Superstar innovators: This elite tier adopts deliberate innovation practices, budgets for innovation to meet strategy goals, and publicly rewards people for ideas that emerge. This select group innovates in all methods - process, product, and service with new product/services in the last three years that accounted for 23.3 percent of their revenue.

This year’s survey asked specific questions of financial, manufacturing, government, education and not-for-profit institutions. Readers of the report can put these statistical findings in perspective by comparing their own innovation experience with the real-life stories of others in their industry. Among the leaders who tell their stories are:

  •  The global sustainability director at business furniture maker Steelcase in Grand Rapids, Mich., and the executive director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Greater Illinois Regional Chapter, who talk about using innovation to fulfill the missions of their organizations
  • The presidents of two Indiana banks who discuss the importance of sharing ideas and the need for better products from their software vendors
  • An innovation consultant from Detroit and Barcelona, Spain, who introduces collaboration in innovation ecosystems as a way to assemble the talent and resources needed for breakthrough innovation
  • The CEO of a senior care provider with locations in Michigan and Illinois who addresses the inevitability of change in healthcare.
  • An innovation trainer from Cincinnati, who explains the importance of a process that includes rules for when to abandon an idea.

To see the complete survey results, click here. A webinar on the survey results will be held September 21.

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