Innovating organisations: the Open Innovability model

Published on Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Innovation is not simply creative chaos: it needs to be nurtured, organised, directed and supported. But how?

This was the central theme at the first Innovation Meeting of the 2020 InnoTech Community that we organised on 5 February with The European House – Ambrosetti. The meeting was chaired by Alberto Di Minin, professor at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa.

A key focus of the meeting was the Enel Group’s Open Innovability model, as outlined by Angelo Rigillo, Head of Innovation Governance, Intelligence and Partnerships, and Guido Stratta, Head of People Development & Senior Executives People Business Partner. This model was introduced six years ago with the aim of further advancing the department of Research and Development and creating a position dedicated to Innovation and Sustainability that reported directly to the CEO with an innovability manager in each of the Group’s business lines. The method was chosen to spark the cultural change that is essential to actuating open innovation.

Rigillo presented our “Innovability journey” which starts by identifying the innovation required, in accordance with the guidelines of the Strategic Plan and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The process continues with the appraisal and selection of innovation tools capable of generating potential solutions and concludes with feasibility tests to check the solutions and then the scale up, their implementation on a large scale. This model has led to the creation of over 650 projects in just a few years, including 300 successful outcomes and more than 100 business solutions. This is the result of innovation that is open to the outside world and that interacts with Enel’s innovation ecosystem by using tools like the Enel international network of 10 Innovation Hubs, the crowdsourcing platform openinnovability.com as well as global partnerships with businesses, startups, universities, research centres and the Innovation Community.

Any organisational change, any new practice, in order to take root must be accepted, otherwise it will not survive the attacks of those who defend the status quo, and in the business world the simplest way to be accepted is to generate value.” And this is exactly what Enel has done. 

At its core, Stratta explained, “innovation is a disobedience with a successful outcome” and must create effective results so that it is not simply fanciful. Everyone has a talent: it is key for an organisation to create the right conditions to allow these talents to be identified, nurtured, promoted and expressed. Ideas have no hierarchy and innovation can come from anywhere. “At Enel, we are now driven by the concept of the person: it’s right that people should live well, which is why we ask: is it so necessary to strive to leave the comfort zone? More value could be found in contamination than in continual mutation.” This is why we have decided to introduce job shadowing and job mentorship programmes. Stratta announced “the final piece will be introduced in 2020 and 2021, when everyone will be able to share their passions and hobbies with their colleagues.”

The HSBC and Pirelli innovation models were also presented at the meeting to participants including representatives from Hitachi, Thales Alenia Space and Q8. Gerd Pircher, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Italy, explained that the international bank has opted for the “fast follower” approach, applying ideas that have been tested elsewhere, and Marco Spinetto, R&D Strategic Innovation at Pirelli, noted that the multinational, while established in 1871, carries out its research and development with the spirit of a startup to ensure that it can keep up with the evolving the market.

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