What makes the most innovative companies stand out? Collaboration, strategic hiring, long-term focus

Plenty of organizations have launched innovation initiatives in recent years, but not all have succeeded. Those that have, however, share several key qualities, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Here are six of the qualities most crucial to the long-lasting success of these "model innovators," per HBR:

  • They hone their focus: The most innovative companies focus more on medium- to long-term improvements, leaving more incremental initiatives to colleagues outside the innovation team.
  • They collaborate with key internal partners: Leading innovation groups have strong ties to their organizations' strategy, corporate venture capital and corporate development or mergers and acquisitions teams.
  • They staff appropriately: Most innovation teams comprise fewer than 10 employees, but one-third of the most successful ones boast more than 100 members.
  • They design incentive systems: "Model innovators" offer employees plenty of reasons to get on board, from awards and recognition to bonuses and funding for their most promising ideas.
  • They monitor impact: It's never too early to begin tracking the return on innovation investment; the most promising innovation teams are those that are constantly tracking data about ongoing projects so they can refine and replace accordingly.
  • They move beyond culture clashes: Organizations with top innovation programs are less concerned with office politics and a lack of alignment than they are with hiring and funding, implying a direct connection between organizationwide buy-in and innovation success.

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