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Industry survey identifies tactics for corporate innovation

Cushman & Wakefield, the commercial real estate services firm has announced the results of a joint survey conducted in partnership with CoreNet Global, the leading professional association for corporate real estate and workplace executives, service providers and economic developers. The results of the survey indicate that the organisational structure needed to produce true innovation within today’s corporate environment requires clearly defined mandates that go well beyond a vision and mission statement.

According to the survey, firms intent on producing industry-leading innovation need to adopt collaborative physical work environments that encourage appropriate levels of risk-taking and that are supported with adequate levels of technology. These important factors must be built into the fabric of the workplace in a holistic manner in order to achieve meaningful results. While leading corporations value innovation at the highest levels of their organisation, cultural barriers to innovation often lurk deep within organisational structures and can lead to suboptimal results.

The joint survey polled 1,500 corporate real estate (CRE) executives during the recent CoreNet Global Summit held this spring, in San Diego. An overwhelming majority (87%) of executives responding identified innovation as ‘extremely or very important’ to their organisations.

While the majority of decision makers who responded indicated that their companies have a plan for, or a structured approach to innovation, more than 40 percent of those surveyed identified challenges in technology and risk-averse decision making processes as needing improvement. Other organisational challenges, reported by 34.7 percent of respondents, include non-collaborative physical work environments as needing improvement. Approximately 32 percent of respondents felt that strengthening corporate mandates to promote uninhibited innovative environments among staff would have a positive effect.

“Collaborative work environments, risk tolerant approaches to decision making and adequate technology rank highest among innovative firms and leading corporate real estate departments”

“This survey confirms the consensus among commercial real estate executives that innovation is the most critical component of competitive advantage,” said John Santora, President and CEO of Cushman & Wakefield Corporate Occupier and Investor Services. “Leading organisations recognise the power of innovation and are proactively taking steps to support it with improvements in technology, collaborative work environments, and more tolerant approaches to risk-taking.”

The survey also cited face-to-face collaboration as a critical success factor in achieving innovation. More than 9 in 10 (93.5%) rank “in-person interaction and human contact” as the most important contributor to innovation. At the same time, more than two-thirds (68.9%) of the respondents rated the quality of the physical work environment as an important related factor.

“These two findings provide another validation of how people still need to be physically connected to be effective at what they are working on. Virtual work will not ultimately trump the physical work setting,” said Santora. “Companies that understand how to balance mobility, telework and other kinds of flexible work practices are often more successful in continuously creating new ideas, products and services.”

Other contributors to innovation inside leading corporations aretechnology (reported by 87.1of those who responded), incentives to innovate (reported by 79.5 percent), multiple generations working together (reported by 77.6 percent), and a corporate mandate to innovate (reported by 67.1 percent).

“Innovation has to be considered one of the top-tier business drivers of most any enterprise, starting with its highly interdependent nature,” explained Richard Kadzis, Vice President of Strategic Communications for CoreNet Global. “Other key drivers like speed to market, capitalisation, talent, competitive advantage and even location strategy directly impact a company’s ability to innovate, so that a company has to be hitting on all these cylinders to be on the leading edge.”

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