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Corporate Innovation S-Curve: Have You Hit Your Acceleration Point Yet?

S-Curves - they’re nothing new. In business they’re used as a great way to mathematically and visually represent a strategic concept of how old ways of doing something have been superseded by a new way. Often used in innovation to represent how the adoption of a new idea starts slowly, before it moves into stage of rapid acceleration to maturity. It’s always really slow going at the bottom of the curve due to many factors such as understanding the idea, ironing out the kinks and the time it takes to build the ecosystem for the idea, product or system. This part of the process can be really slow going.

There will be a critical point when it starts to gain momentum and goes through a period of rapid growth. This momentum and growth will ease off as a maturity ceiling is reached and any further improvement or growth plateaus.

Like products, trends in business and management go through an S-Curve process, and organisations adopt these for a variety of reasons. There was a time before Simon Sinek and his Golden Circle concept, Agile, Customer Focused Organisations and the list goes on. Now we have these widely adopted practices we can’t imagine a world without them. But there was a time when these ideas where struggling in the wilderness, at the bottom of their respective S-Curves going through refinements and seeking adopters of the concept.

Corporate innovation is on its S-Curve, and for many organisations it is still at the bottom of the curve waiting to hit an acceleration point. It is not because there are no ideas or ambition to innovate. Quite the opposite. What is keeping many organisations at the bottom of the S-Curve is the inability to operationalise their innovation strategy into a repeatable and scalable portfolio process that drives significant bottom line returns. An eco-system of innovation practices, governance and streamlined cross functional end-to-end process.

What is driving the S-curve of corporate innovation?

Performance and progress evaluation over time is a key method we employ to plot the S-Curve of corporate innovation for our clients. Understanding their actual progress and mapping this against their planned/forecasted progress quite often an eye-opening experience to help leaders understand they are yet to start on the rapid acceleration stage to maturity.

There are a lot of factors that need to be evaluated in our method of understanding the current status of an organisation’s innovation program, including:

  • Innovation strategy

  • Business model and cultural fit

  • Scale of Corporate Innovation Program

  • People and resource allocation

  • Maturity

  • Systems and processes implemented to deliver innovation, and not just capture ideas

  • Efficiency

  • Capability to deliver

  • Innovation governance model

  • Budget

  • Benefits realisation process

  • Reinvestment models

This is a powerful comparison to highlight the innovation readiness, ability and process gap to turn ambition into a culture of innovation.

The theory of S-Curves is that while the current process is maturing, there is another system or process in development that is not yet good enough. This new process needs to go through a development and maturity stage to move past the ceiling you have hit in your current process. The trick is to understand the S-curve process and know when the downward inflection point is occurring at the time of plateau and how to move gracefully to the next S-Curve to continue growing and developing.

Just as you do for your products and services, the same thinking needs to be employed for innovation management. What got here today, is unlikely to get you to where you aspire to be in the future.

An example of this is Agile. Back in 2000 this methodology was created by software developers in Silicon Valley to help them manage their development process, failure rates, time to complete projects and find ways to minimise development costs. In effect they created an alternative to the traditional project management process to suit the needs of software development.

Whilst this was created to manage software development, it went through a long development and evolution process to be adopted as a project management methodology across a wide variety of industries and organisations.

The evolution beyond Agile for innovation project management is the adoption of automated, optimised innovation portfolio management platforms.

The team at GOYA have developed a cloud-based solution that automates the critical innovation flow inside your organisation providing the specific requirements for innovation governance, budget & resource management through an A I driven process. In essence a system that links, maps and processes information streams to enhance innovation outcomes in the corporate environment.

The ceiling for Agile has been reached in many organisations and whilst it supports the development of self-managed teams to work through a lean process, the problems occur in both human behaviour and the bureaucratic nature of organisations. As a result, the methodology is often diluted, managed in isolation and difficult to manage at an enterprise scale level.

Agile isn’t dead. Far from it. It is just being absorbed into a better way of managing entire portfolios, decision making processes and achievement of outcomes. Where Agile has hit the ceiling, the great and productive components of it will move to the next S-Curve.

In order corporate innovation to be profoundly successful, a convergence of information, data, project methodologies and governance is required deliver a culture of pervasive, repeatable and scalable innovation.

If you would like to jump on the S-Curve to accelerate your corporate innovation get in touch with the team at GOYA and we’ll organise a demo to how your team how they can supercharge their innovation process. Email us at



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