Lessons Learnt from Designing & Implementing Innovation Challenges

Innovation challenges differ from organization to organization based on their innovation goals, their requirements and barriers to achieve those goals, their strengths and their tolerance for risk and failure. In the late 2000s Hansen and Birkinshaw had already cautioned Harvard Business Review readers about the perils of using “the latest and greatest innovation approaches and tools without understanding the unique deficiencies in their companies’ innovation systems”. Understanding one’s organization is a key success factor in innovation. However, since innovation means, in the words of United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, “doing things differently, and doing different things,” bottlenecks, weaknesses and strengths in testing, developing and scaling up ideas are not always immediately evident. In recent years, innovation challenges have become increasingly popular as an effective mechanism to scout for ideas internally and externally, selecting them, funding them and supporting them to scale up.