Innovation & IP: It starts with leadership culture

Posted on 12 Oct 2018 by The Manufacturer

Leadership recruitment experts Francesca d’Arcangeli and Claire Lauder highlight the key drivers of performance through innovation and IP.

Business growth ideas innovation competitive advantage market share - image courtesy of Depositphotos.According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), innovation is ‘a human force that knows no limits. It turns problems into progress. It pushes the boundaries of possibility, creating unprecedented new capabilities.’

All too often it is misdefined and misinterpreted, but at its simplest, according to author Professor John Bessant of the University of Exeter’s Business School, ‘Innovation is creating value from ideas’.

Ideas are brilliant, but they don’t add value until translated into innovation. Common failings include putting everything into an idea and never achieving actual innovation, or focusing on products or services when innovation in process may be key.

The power of intellectual property

Innovation may or may not lead to specific intellectual property (IP), but the clear benefits of developing IP have been recognised for centuries. The first modern patent was granted in 1421 to Filippo Brunelleschi, when the Republic of Florence recognised his design for a barge with hoisting gear. Six centuries later, in 2015, a record 2.9 million patent applications were filed globally.

IP rights are not just a nice optional bolt-on for advanced economies; they are at the heart of economic growth. Countries with robust IP environments have a GDP per-capita 21-times that of countries with weak regimes. IP-intensive industries employ more than 30% of the workforce in the US and EU, and are responsible for 40% of their GDP.

This article first appeared in the September issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here.

There should be no limits to the source of innovation. It can come from an organisation’s own teams, the wider market, or even competitors. The key is ensuring businesses have the ability to pick up on trends and deliver what customers want and need ahead of their rivals.

Methodology and leadership

The big questions facing businesses are how to drive greater innovation through their organisation, and how to identify and learn from others who demonstrate higher levels of successful innovation.

Tackling these twin challenges starts with a business’s leadership and the culture it embodies. A business’s culture will define the level of innovation it can achieve.

Diversity of thought, constant change and learning through mistakes need to be embraced and encouraged. An environment where it is safe to be different and which promotes open collaboration will enable a business to establish and drive its ever-changing roadmap to creating value.

The diversity dividend

Diversity as a driver of innovation and enhanced performance is well proven – from our own findings (Boyden Diversity Research, soon to be published), to those of Harvard, McKinsey and KPMG, the diversity-performance correlation is clear.

McKinsey’s 2018 study – Delivering through Diversity, concluded that gender-diverse companies are 21% more likely to outperform, and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their diversity-poor rivals.

Executives gathered at Manufacturing Innovation Summit 2018 to explore the need to disrupt or be disrupted – image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

This year, The Manufacturer held the inaugural Women & Diversity in Manufacturing Summit – a one-day event which explored new approaches to recruitment and engagement.

You can read the day’s key takeaways using the links below: 

The next Women & Diversity in Manufacturing Summit will be held on 7 March, 2019

Diversity, however, is not about statistics. It is about leadership recognising and embracing a diverse workforce as the best way to compete.

It is achieved by actively driving recruitment and development strategies that target a mix of sexual orientation, ethnicities and social and educational backgrounds; embracing the spectrum of disabilities, and fostering awareness of unconscious bias.

To that end, Boyden works with its clients to drive performance and innovation through organisational development programmes, diverse talent hiring and culture awareness.

Further information: Discover more about Boyden’s work at

Claire Lauder, Partner, UK Boyden Interim Management.

Claire Lauder  Partner, UK

Boyden Interim Management

Francesca d’Arcangeli, Managing Partner, UK, Boyden Executive Search

Francesca d’Arcangeli  Managing Partner, UK

Boyden Executive Search