During a recent workshop I conducted in New Jersey, participants shared their perspective that innovation is often too tightly tied to Research and Development. It’s seen as something that R&D departments are “in charge of,” rather than as an integrated, daily activity for staff across a corporation. Integrated innovation makes everyone in the organization responsible for finding solutions.

As a result, the product of innovation is frequently perceived as being patents or inventions, not new ways of doing business or revamping routines. And when front-line employees feel disconnected from the innovation process, they don’t contribute the ideas that arise directly from hearing about customer wants and problems – the types of ideas that are capable of spawning game-changing products.

Building integrated innovation capability is about ensuring that employees at every level of the organization have the skills and understanding they need to incorporate creativity as a natural and easy part of their everyday routines. When that happens, the pipeline of ideas that often flows in only one direction can be transformed into an interconnected web of opportunities that encourage innovation across an organization.