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Author's profile photo Tonja Erismann

4 Steps to Establish an Innovation DNA in Your Organization – Part I

Ever wondered how you instill an innovation culture in your organization? Here’s some insights and learnings from an initiative we’ve been running for the past year at SAP.

While putting in place an innovation framework such as the Innovation Management Framework by Marco Cigaina is the essence of building an innovative organization, it is not the purpose of such a framework that everyone in your organization should know it. So how do you create something simple and meaningful that will help your employees

  • create ideas,
  • validate their value, and
  • realize them,

in other words, develop the capabilities required to become better at innovating, ie an InnovationDNA? And yes, of course DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid, the genetic encoding of our cells – but in our case we also wanted it to stand for a Deliberate New Attitude!

So how to establish that? The 4S framework below is what SAP Services organization in APJ have started using for the past year:


This is what Innovation should mean for every individual of the organization. Let’s look at that in some more detail; how did we ensure awareness of the framework, and how did we drive the adoption of the behaviour, skills and accelerators explained in the four aspects?

Introducing the 4S Framework

In a world dominated by too much buzz how to you get attention for yet another piece of information your people should become aware of? At SAP we used a combination of gamification and guerilla marketing.

The new framework and initiative were not simply announced by an email from an executive – the introduction was done with a quest: If you wanted to know what InnovationDNA was about, you had to solve a quiz with questions around innovation. The right answer brought you to a landing page with initial information. The quest proved to be a success –  the usual hitrates for infomails were more than quadrupled!

So now we got the initial attention – how did we make sure people understood and applied the framework in their work life? Following the announcement, each of the four aspects of the framework was introduced separately, to explain

  • WHY it was relevant
  • WHAT it meant to each individual of the organization
  • HOW it could be adopted (remember: the DNA – Attitude)

Interested in more details about the framework, and it’s adoption path? Stay tuned for Part II of this blog, where I’ll share how we used video clips, cartoons, contests, DIY-origami, design thinking, edu-games and more to raise our organization’s innovation profile.

Any important aspects I have missed / got your own experience to share? I look forward to our comment-versation!

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About the Author: Tonja Erismann is an innovation and strategy expert and Head of Innovation DNA in SAP’s Global Services Innovation group, with over 15 years of emerging technology management and consulting experience with leading global businesses.

Follow me on Twitter @TonjaErismann

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      Author's profile photo Robinson Selvamani
      Robinson Selvamani

      Innovation requires knowledge. Once we get or identify the problem to solve, our subconscious mind starts working in the background by processing the knowledge we have. Suddenly an idea clicked that helps solving the problem.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Really nice, I will tuned! 🙂