Money, promiscuous partnering and 'intrapreneurs'

Image from Shutterstock.

Innovation is tied to spending, but not in the way one might think.

"There is no statistical correlation between performance and spend," said Rob Shelton, Price Waterhouse Cooper’s global lead for innovation strategy. And the number one motivator for breakthrough innovations, he said, is recognition, not money.

"Breakthrough innovators want to change the world, and they want recognition that they helped to do it," Shelton said. "Making sure they get that recognition is absolutely essential."

Shelton, who is also the co-author of "Making Innovation Work: How to Measure it, Manage It and Profit from It," ran a June 12 ACT-IAC seminar on innovation in large organizations. (FCW was ACT-IAC's media partner for this event.) He stressed that the model for breakthrough innovation isn't cookie cutter; managers need to know what motivates their employees and also how to use their resources in an agile and solutions-based way. And while a basic level of investment is of course required, the real trick is knowing where to spend, not how much.

Shelton encouraged leaders to look within their agency for the resources they already have, and identify -- or develop -- intrapreneurs. An intrapreneur, he said, is someone with entrepreneurial skills who also understands the organization -- someone who knows the mission, customer needs and can “manage ignorance” within the agency.

Also critical is the ability to collaborate with a wide range of outside partners -- and managers must break down the model of "we have to do it ourselves." Shelton pointed to DARPA as an agency that cultivates a vast ecosystem that fosters innovation -- partnering with universities, academia and technology companies to produce some of government’s most famous innovations.

"The leaders have strategic partners and spend a lot of time working with them," Shelton said. "There are a billion IQ points outside your organization you can tap into."

Agencies -- and most private-sector firms -- tend to overemphasize incremental innovation, Shelton said, as opposed to breakthrough and radical innovation. And blanket innovation across an organization is not a prescription for success. Successful innovation, he stressed, requires thoughtfulness and selectiveness.

"Pay attention to how much you're trying to do, as well as what you're trying to do," Shelton said.

About the Author

Colby Hochmuth is a former staff writer for FCW.


  • Congress
    U.S. Capitol (Photo by M DOGAN / Shutterstock)

    Funding bill clears Congress, heads for president's desk

    The $1.3 trillion spending package passed the House of Representatives on March 22 and the Senate in the early hours of March 23. President Trump is expected to sign the bill, securing government funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2018.

  • 2018 Fed 100

    The 2018 Federal 100

    This year's Fed 100 winners show just how much committed and talented individuals can accomplish in federal IT. Read their profiles to learn more!

  • Census
    How tech can save money for 2020 census

    Trump campaign taps census question as a fund-raising tool

    A fundraising email for the Trump-Pence reelection campaign is trying to get supporters behind a controversial change to the census -- asking respondents whether or not they are U.S. citizens.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.