Saab’s approach to innovation
Innovation is critical for Saab’s future and we believe it’s something that can be learned, managed and measured so that we can create and sustain an innovative company culture. We work with our values, attitudes and behaviours to bring out our people’s innovative sides and let their talents shine.
What is innovation?
Innovation is about successfully realising novel value from insights and ideas, but there is a misconception that it is something that only comes from a certain minority of geniuses. Innovation does not start with a genius idea; it starts with someone identifying a problem that requires a solution.
Saab approaches innovation as something that can be learned, managed and measured - anyone who wants to can be innovative with the right support. We see the management of innovation as being a mission-critical leadership discipline, we believe that innovation can be learned and that it should be part of our employees’ competence development, and we think that innovation should be part of the performance measurements that are central to charting the progress of our business.
Rather than restricting creative freedom, this proactive and systematic approach enables a culture that is both innovation-friendly and which creates value for the company; because an innovation without value is merely a pipe dream.
Innovation is not just the product offer
For Saab, innovation is more than products or technology that we sell. It also embraces the company’s structure (how we make money and how we use our talents), and the customer experience (including how we deliver our products, how we service them, the perception of our brand and how we engage with our customers). The majority of companies invest most in the product offer, but studies have found that addressing the configuration and experience aspects can bring the highest returns.
How do we innovate?
How and where should we focus our innovation resources? The Three Horizons of Growth model is key here:
- The first growth horizon for a company is its immediate future, defending and extending the company’s core business.
- The second growth horizon is about building the momentum of emerging new business.
- The third growth horizon is where a company analyses and anticipates disruptive trends to create options for future business.
It’s a balance between fully exploiting what we have now with exploring new ideas.
Target state 2024
As the world becomes more uncertain and the rate of technological change speeds up, Saab needs to keep innovating to renew our business and make us thrive. This is why we need to create a framework in which innovation performance can be supported and developed. Saab has established Target State 2024, where we seek to enable the scaling of new opportunities by:
- Managing innovation as business critical
- Supporting its innovation performance
- Having an innovation-friendly culture
Saab’s five Innovation Labs, which cover strategic technology areas, are the company’s way of achieving a faster introduction of new technology.
They key focus for the Innovation Labs is to demonstrate new technology to customers and partners. A prioritised project is typically given a small amount of funding and has a short development lifespan with the motto of ‘fail fast', to avoid being self-indulgent.
Saab Innovation Greenhouse
Employees who have insights, ideas and new innovation opportunities can apply for the support of the Saab Innovation Greenhouse. The Greenhouse takes the chosen project and provides it with support in testing and developing the idea with a view to scaling it up as prospect for the wider business.
Here, we look at the desirability first and then the feasibility and viability of the project.
With an external focus, the Start-Up team at Saab continuously meets with Swedish and international start-up companies to identify promising collaborations. The team also works with many of Saab’s business units to identify needs and challenges that could be addressed in a start-up collaboration. Read more about start-ups