Innovation is crucial for the success and growth of organizations, regardless of their size or industry. However, managing an innovation portfolio poses unique challenges. In a recent webinar, Alex Osterwalder, Founder of Strategyzer, along with Bayer’s Corporate Innovation Team, shared their experiences and insights on managing innovation portfolios. The webinar aimed to bridge the gap between theory and practice by emphasizing the importance of innovation culture, exploring new value propositions and business models, and understanding portfolio management principles.
Managing innovation portfolios is challenging as organizations must simultaneously exploit existing resources and explore future opportunities. While most companies excel at managing current operations, exploring new value propositions requires a different approach. Alex Osterwalder introduced the concept of innovation portfolios, highlighting the need for organizations to have separate portfolios for managing existing resources and inventing the future.
Bayer’s Corporate Innovation Team shared their innovation journey, demonstrating the evolution of their innovation portfolio over the years. They emphasized the importance of learning from both successful and unsuccessful projects to refine their portfolio management approach and make informed decisions for future investments.
Bayer employed a robust search funnel to identify and nurture innovative ideas. They received over 400 applications from internal and external sources, rigorously evaluating them to advance 75 teams to the exploration phase. From there, 29 projects proceeded to the incubation stage, where they received additional support and resources. Finally, 17 projects were selected to be continued by Bayer’s business divisions, marking the successful transition from the innovation portfolio to operational units.Collaboration and cross-functional engagement played a significant role in Bayer’s innovation journey. They emphasized the importance of partnerships, both internal and external, in driving innovation and accessing diverse expertise. Bayer also fostered a supportive organizational culture that encouraged risk-taking and learning from failures.
Shamira, an innovation coach at Strategyzer, highlighted the exploration phase of the innovation journey, emphasizing the importance of searching for a viable business model. She stressed the need for multiple business prototypes to gather feedback from customers and the iterative nature of the innovation process.
Bayer overcame innovation barriers by leveraging their internal crowd-sourcing platform, addressing legal blocks, and providing prototyping support. They facilitated access to customers, aligned with legal frameworks, and offered predefined experiment offerings to support teams in de-risking their ideas. Real-life cases from Bayer illustrated the importance of user-centric validation, effective feedback collection, and leveraging viral marketing. Involving customers and stakeholders throughout the innovation journey helped develop solutions that addressed real needs and achieved market success. Julia Hitzbleck, Director of Innovation Strategy at Bayer, shared their experience in creating a culture of innovation within the organization. Bayer implemented leadership support, established local innovation ambassadors, launched entrepreneurship programs, and developed tools to facilitate collaboration and experimentation. By emphasizing evidence-based decision-making and fostering a fail-fast approach, Bayer achieved a sustainable funnel of de-risked projects and a better understanding of growth opportunities.
The webinar concluded by highlighting that innovation is an ongoing process requiring continuous evolution. Building a culture of innovation involves bottom-up and top-down support and the involvement of all employees. Participants were encouraged to embrace the lessons shared by Bayer and leverage them to foster their own innovation culture.
Overall, the webinar provided valuable insights into managing innovation portfolios and cultivating an innovation culture. The experiences and wisdom shared by Bayer’s Corporate Innovation Team serve as guidance for organizations seeking to embark on their innovation journeys.