A global innovation challenge

The Malcolm Baldridge Award has, since 1988, recognized performance excellence among U.S. organizations.  More importantly, though, the many companies that compete for this award do so not only to win (certainly not the first year) but to use the process as a means for setting a clear priority for performance, learning the tools and language of performance excellence, and benchmarking themselves against others. Having worked with firms that went through the process, the benefits were clear.  What’s needed is a similar program on innovation.

I’m involved with one such opportunity, the Katerva Challenge, that is launching as a yearly competition aimed at “inspiring and applauding world-changing innovation.” The focus this year is on reducing greenhouse gases—in other years those topics will change.

Like the Baldridge Award, this competition focuses on providing organizations with the tools they need to strengthen their innovative capabilities.

Unlike the Baldridge Award, the Katerva Challenge also recognizes and supports the networks that bring truly revolutionary innovations to market.  Competing teams don’t come from a single company but rather from a set of partners who bring a range of skills, resources, and perspectives to the problem at hand.

In this way, the teams learn, develop, and demonstrate the essential role that networks play in turning ideas into realities.