Innovation & Creativity at Work

What organisational structure, leadership style and capabilities need to be developed to successfully lead tomorrow’s innovative organisations?

According to Accenture’s research, in a large number of cases corporate innovation does not work because firms are still too slow to move and change their working practices.

At the WIRED conference in London the global head of growth and strategy for Accenture Digital explained that when firms attempt to move quickly it doesn’t always work and they run into problems.

Too many companies are finding themselves trapped in an innovation death spiral, when new products, developed and launched with high expectations, flop. Those products soak up valuable resources, and as a result, has fewer resources to invest in other initiatives that may prove more successful, including the bold, truly. Feeling constrained the company resorts to safer incremental improvements of existing products and services.

   Innovation is not an end in itself but a process. It’s about doing things better, doing things differently, doing new things and, increasingly, it’s about doing things together.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner, Research, Science and Innovation, European Commission

Reimagine the Innovation game


Innovation and creativity are the very essence of what the business is about, and is becoming everyone’s responsibility. And with productivity lagging, are more important than ever.

We are making a strong case for human-centered innovation incorporating design thinking to improve user experiences, develop new products or services, revamp corporate strategies, and reinvent the innovation game.

According to professor Lynda Gratton, when intelligence and wisdom are amplified, emotional vitality is enhanced, and social connections are harnessed.

When Hot Spots arise in and between companies, they provide excess, palpable, bright, shining energy for exploring and applying knowledge that is already known and what was previously unknown. Hot Spots in a process of synthesis, are creators of value for organisations, and offers an exhilarating satisfaction knowing deep down that what you are jointly achieving is purposeful.

Collaboration and alliance building capabilities, are some of the tools for creating excel mindsets for game-changing innovations that can provide sustainable competitive advantage and fuel profitable growth.




Open innovation is a way to stay on top of the competition, reduce costs, spread risks and bring new products to the market more quickly.

It takes place in two ways:

  1. by tapping into the creativity and brainpower of many through crowdsourcing, and
  2. by opening up a company’s internal ideas to the external community.




Historically, LEGO depended on its marketers to make big bets on the products of the future, but it changed its approach and launched “LEGO Ideas,” a crowdsourcing site on which anyone could submit suggestions. Fans then voted and LEGO produced limited editions of the best and most popular concepts with great success.


How are companies positioned in terms of innovation?

Where do they need to be?

Are they willing to make basic investments to seed innovation in novel ways?

How can internal employees as well as external partners be motivated?


The Other Side of Innovation




In attempting an innovation program, many companies make one of several mistakes, which can include:

  • Bias for Insiders who work in the Performance Engine;
  • Adopting Existing Formal Definition of Roles and Responsibilities, instead of adopting roles to fit the innovation;
  • Assessing Performance based on Established Metrics, instead of measuring success or failure by trends fit for the innovation



“Quick learning is most likely when there is a clear hypothesis of record that everyone involved in evaluating the initiatives shares and uses as a frame of reference in any discussion of the initiative’s progress.”


“Too often, we see extraordinary efforts to build the perfect spreadsheet to prove the case for investment. We’d like to shift much of the effort that goes into perfecting the spreadsheet models to improving conversations about the underlying assumptions.”

The Quest for a balance between ongoing activity and strategic needs




A side effect of such profit-creating activity pressures, which shape companies as they mature, can be a reduced capacity for accomplishing some innovative projects. 

Professors Govindarajan and Trimble, recommend establishing a Dedicated Team with best practices and targetd metrics, and maintaining a balanced collaborative relationship between the team and various stakeholders from the Performance Engine.

“A dedicated team’s purpose…is not to overcome organisational memory.  It is to execute part of the innovation initiative. To do so, the Dedicated Team needs both insiders and outsiders, and it needs a healthy partnership with the Performance Engine.”


Innovate UK is driving the UK’s technology and innovation strategy, focused on improving efficiency and providing opportunities for UK businesses to succeed with their creative ideas.

Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network, provides innovation networking to drive UK growth. It strengthens the economy and improves people’s lives by capturing maximum value from innovative ideas, scientific research and creativity. It links new ideas and opportunities with expertise, markets and finance through our network of businesses, universities, funders and investors.

Dr. Ruth McKernan
CBE; PhD – Innovate UK Chief Executive

Dr. Ruth McKernan is driving the UK’s technology and innovation strategy. She has a long track record of innovation and achievement especially in the pharmaceutical industry. 25 years of research and commercial experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including heading up research units in the UK and the US as a Senior Vice President, Pfizer and Head of the Merck Neuroscience Research Centre.


Dr Ruth McKernan CBE talks to Michelle May about her motivations and her vision for the organisation.

Professor Lynda Gratton
Management Practice – London Business School

Professor Lynda Gratton is Professor of Management Practice at London Business School where she directs the program ‘Human Resource Strategy in Transforming Companies’ – considered the world’s leading program on human resources. She is the founder of the Hot Spots Movement. The movement has engaged with many companies including ARM, BT, Fujitsu, Generali, Philips and Unilever. She has led the Future of Work Consortium which has brought executives from close to 100 companies together both virtually and on a bespoke collaborative platform.She has written seven books and numerous academic articles and is considered one of the world’s authorities on people management.

Professor Lynda Gratton is considered one of the world’s authorities on people in organisations.


Creativity and Innovation within the Organisation

  • In 2013, she was awarded a CBE for services to business, innovation and skills. She is a member of the Science, Industry and Translation Committee of the Royal Society and was a Council Member for the Medical Research Council for five years.

    Dr. Ruth McKernan’s awards and achievements include:

    • Fulbright Scholarship
    • Winner of Glaxo/ABSW Science Writers’ Award
    • Published author with more than 120 scientific papers and 15 patents
    • BSc in Pharmacology and Biochemistry and PhD in Molecular Neuroscience from King’s College, London
    • Author of a book for non-scientists, “Billy’s Halo”
  • A trained psychologist, she worked for British Airways for several years as an occupational psychologist. Prior to joining London Business School she was director of HR strategy at PA Consulting. She advises companies around the world and sits on a number of advisory boards. She has served on the board of the American HR Planning Society, and conducts workshops in the UK and in the US.

    She sits on the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards panel, the FT Business Book of the Year panel and chairs the World Economic Forum council on the future models of leadership.

    Lynda Gratton ‘s article “Integrating the Enterprise,” which examined cooperative strategies, was awarded the MIT Sloan Management Review best article of the year in 2002. Her case study of BP’s peer assist integration practices won the 2005 ECC best strategy case of the year award.

    Her eight books cover the link between business and HR strategy (Living Strategy), the new ways of working (The Democratic Enterprise), the rise of complex collaboration (Hot Spots and Glow) and the impact of a changing world on employment and work (The Shift).

    Her first book Living Strategy has been translated into more than 15 languages and rated by US CEOs as one of the most important books of the year. Her next book, The Democratic Enterprise, was described by Financial Times as a work of important scholarship. Her most recent book is The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here – “an unhysterical look at the future of employment”. In 2012 The Shift received the business book of the year award in Japan and has been translated into more than 15 languages.

    In 2015 The Key won the CMI Management Book of the Year. This book looks at the impact of the changing world on corporate practices and processes and on leadership.

    In June 2016, she launched The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, co-written with Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics at London Business School.

    She has won the Tata prize in India; in the US she has been named as the annual Fellow of NAHR and won the CCL prize; whilst in Australia she has won the HR prize. She is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum and has chaired the WEF Council of Leadership. She has served as a judge on the FT Business Book of the Year panel, chairs the Drucker prize panel and is on the governing body of London Business School.