What you should know before starting an innovation lab

What is an innovation lab?

Promoting innovations in the world of business and technology means staying ahead of the curve and multiplying an organization’s revenue streams in the long run. Opening an innovation lab is the shortcut to kick starting this process with an eye of utilizing its idea-based incubation potential and mining gold veins of creativity every business depends on. These labs function as dedicated spaces or physical environments which act as focal points for all activities and efforts one initiates with the sole goal of stimulating and promoting innovations.

What is the purpose of having an innovation lab?

If you consider setting up an innovation lab, the first logical question is to consider if its core purposes are in line with your general business strategy. For starters, bear in mind that innovation labs are defined less by the physical space they occupy, but rather by the culture which permeates all the activities taking place there, and that is the one of incubating creative talents. Thus, opening an innovation lab means that it will achieve its full potential only if you took out persons with creative potential from whatever corner they may languish in, and placed them in a space which promotes cooperation and creative flow of ideas.

Promoting the innovation culture in a lab as its hotbed means having a pool of people which will be allowed and provided with the means to test their ideas, exchange experiences and communicate them with the rest of the organization they are part of or subordinate to.

At the same time, innovation labs have the purpose of ensuring the circulation and aggregation of talents which work on ideas which are either submitted from “above” or generated as part of the productive competition which is promoted at the level of a lab.

Talent replenishment in business is a continual process and innovation labs can be of great help to both attract and filter out the best ones for your organization. Even if a company has not been breaking any new grounds lately, having an innovation lab can help it acquire a sort of a marketing trump card. This means that talents who are already privileged to be offered satisfactory enough wages by the competition will still prefer to join your team, as having an innovation lab helps you build an image of a forward-thinking, exciting place for work.

Finally, these places promote a long-term approach to innovating which will not be pressured by the need to get short-term financial returns as soon as possible and thus hurt the overall effort.

innovation lab
In addition to its innate benefits, having a functional innovation lab will help you attract talents whose career preferences go beyond mere wage-based considerations, as your organization will be perceived as an exciting and frontier-breaking place to work Source

Pitfalls to avoid

If you are thinking of setting up an innovation lab, you need to consider some of the common pitfalls before approaching such a project. First of all, it is necessary to do away with any idea of using the innovation lab just as a ploy which will allow you to masquerade as a startup. This attempt at deception will soon be seen through, as this space is unlikely to come up with any substantial innovation without being organically connected to a viable business strategy of a mothership company.

Instead, a more sound approach, business-wise, is to devise a strategy whose main goals will be carefully balanced against the umbrella business orientation of an organization. The need for the balance here is crucial, as you do not want your strategy to stifle the flow of novel ideas in your lab, but, you neither want them to drift too far away, even though this may bring about truly disruptive innovations. Yet, the strength of a leash around an innovation lab is something which will be ultimately determined with enough practice and experience in running it.

The flow of innovative ideas at innovation labs needs to be carefully balanced against the general business goals, without them acting as a burden on creativity Source
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