We routinely get asked, ‘why innovate?’ Innovating the right way delivers ongoing impact and value – and we absolutely believe this to be true. We have witnessed that over and over again from age-old to modern companies like 3M, JP Morgan, Microsoft, Amazon, or so many others. In the oil and gas market, many companies continue to view innovation as a means to spend time and money chasing the art-of-the-possible without tangible financial benefits. This philosophy is incorrect. Innovation should pave the path to providing new solutions to challenges across both near-term and long-term corporate objectives. What is often unrealized, however, is that learning to innovate is a journey and innovation is a mindset, culture, and discipline that oil and gas companies should invest in and benefit from.
The innovation mindset brings together corporate strategies, opportunities, and challenges within a single framework. Oftentimes, the mindset begins with a dedicated innovation team, either dispersed across an organization or centralized. The right innovation team has the know-how and resources to translate business objectives to driving new solutions that deliver impact. Innovators fundamentally believe that innovating and driving new outcomes every day is achievable via better engagements, habits, tools, and often, technology.
The innovation culture is perhaps the hardest to develop, and this takes time. The much sought after innovation culture often begins with leaders developing transparent channels to communicate corporate goals and strategies, perceived threats from the marketplace, and opportunities. To develop an innovation culture, to begin with, employees need to feel empowered, valued, and recognized. Innovation magic happens when individuals feel invested in corporate innovation and have a framework, time, resources, and incentives to find solutions to difficult challenges. An innovation culture, put simply, is empowering and unlocking the potential of every employee to feel responsible for finding solutions to business ambitions.
Although the concept of innovation may seem unstructured at first, the innovation discipline lies at the heart of finding success. Innovation discipline is unique to each organization and includes a set of daily, weekly, and monthly activities that drive and force innovation within a firm. Activities include a cadence for strategy, ideation, communications, and possibly hackathons or other events to drive innovation. In addition, innovation disciplines also need a clear methodology for translating ideas to actual solutions.
Oil and gas companies should absolutely believe that innovation can deliver financial gains in the short and long term. Setting up an innovation engine is a journey, but companies should start small with an innovation mindset and invest in individuals who can develop the right frameworks and disciplines to penetrate a culture of innovation across an organization.
Rakhee Das, Innovation & Technology Practice Leader – Sirius Solutions, L.L.L.P.
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