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Innovation Governance: How Proactive is Your Board?

January 5, 2018

Congratulations Canada?

The 2017 Global Innovation Index (GII) rankings are out and we are in the top 25 — out of 127 countries — again. Should we celebrate? Not really.

In its 10th year, the GII has gained international recognition as a leading reference on innovation and a “tool for action” for decision makers across a wide range of sectors, organizations, institutions and governments.

Canada has ranked in the top 25 since 2007 (8th place) and in 2017 ranked 18th — down three spots from the previous year. Since 2007 Canada has only been in the top ten twice.

With the threat of emerging “hot” economies, increased foreign competition and protectionism in the US and UK, Canada needs to jump-start the innovation agenda! So do Canadian companies.

The GII measures a wide range of inputs and outputs measuring innovation across seven “pillars” including:

  1. Institutions

  2. Human capital and research

  3. Infrastructure

  4. Market sophistication

  5. Business sophistication

  6. Knowledge and technology outputs

  7. Creative outputs

While we are far from the sky falling in Canada, there are some key weaknesses identified by the GII that Canada and Canadian companies could work to strengthen, particularly in the areas of human capital and research, along with business sophistication.

The lack of educational support, which falls under the human capital and research pillar, is one component in need of improvement, a component that we are helping to address.

Is Innovation a Priority For Your Company and Your Board?

Innovation is a priority for the Canadian Government and it needs to be a priority for Canadian companies as well in order to compete and grow. And, the board has an important and proactive role to play.

While the GII helps board members better understand the key inputs and outputs that drive innovation it doesn’t provide the board of directors with any guidance on the role the board can play.

In “Innovation Governance: How proactive is your board?” by Jean-Philippe Deschamps, Emeritus Professor of Innovation Management at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland — and faculty member of The Directors College — asserts that all global business and technology trends point in the same direction: there is a need for more proactive and far-sighted management of innovation.

And, that innovation governance — a holistic approach to steering, promoting and sustaining innovation — is thus becoming a new management imperative.

Deschamps offers ten good-practice questions boards should consider when assessing the role they can play, if any, regarding innovation:

  1. Have we set an innovation agenda in many, if not most, of our meetings?

  2. Do we regularly review “make-or-break” innovation projects?

  3. Do we regularly review and discuss the company’s innovation strategy?

  4. De we regularly review and discuss the company’s innovation risk?

  5. Do we set specific innovation goals for management?

  6. Do we review innovation management issues with the CEO?

  7. Do we expect management to conduct innovation audits?

  8. Do we expect management to report on innovation performance?

  9. Do we know and occasionally meet our main corporate innovators?

  10. Do we take innovation into account when appointing new leaders?


RELATED: Each question is further explored with guidance and advice here.


How The Directors College is Helping Boards

One of the contributing factors that has resulted in Canada dropping on the GII is the lack of educational support. The Directors College helps to close this gap through the Chartered Director Program (C.Dir.) — our signature directors education program (DEP) — and our short program: Innovation Governance for Directors led by faculty member Jean-Philippe Descamps and our Principal Dr. Michael Hartmann.

You can hear more about the relevance of Innovation Governance for Directors in this brief video:

Tags: Innovation