The LACE Model: Your guide to creating a more innovative organisation

by | Jun 19, 2023 | Innovation

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Your organisation needs to be more innovative to achieve its strategic vision, so what do you do?

If you haven’t already, you might hire an innovation consulting firm to train a small group of employees to become your Innovation Champions, a select group of individuals who will understand how to innovate.

If this is the only thing you plan to do, don’t waste your money.

I’ve been that external trainer brought in to train employees on how to innovate, and I’ve seen tens of thousands of dollars wasted like this.

Whilst the training may have upskilled a few people and given them confidence, they are now like elite soldiers trained and ready to go but never deployed.

They are fully engaged but not enabled without any opportunity to put their newly learned skills into practice. The best of each cohort tends to become frustrated and leave.

Embarking on becoming a more innovative organisation can be daunting, and there’s no universal solution. However, there are key factors to consider. To assist, I’ve developed The LACE model, a framework encompassing four essential factors for fostering innovation in your organisation.

Each factor is like an eyelet in your shoe; if you miss threading your shoelace through one, it affects the overall fit. As with the LACE model, each of the four factors is vital and should not be overlooked.

LACE is an acronym for Leadership Alignment, Awareness, Capability and Engagement & Enablement:


Leadership Alignment

The leadership team must be clear and align on the organisation’s goals and vision.

It must also be aligned as to where innovation is needed to achieve its targets.

This is important in ensuring innovation is strategic and resources are used effectively.

The leadership team must align on a common understanding of what innovation is and the different types of innovation. It also needs to decide which innovation framework the organisation will adopt for how to innovate that will become embedded as a way of working within the organisation, like this one.


Employees must be aware of the organisation’s goals, vision, and the key areas where innovation is needed. This communication aspect is often dismissed.

Employees must be able to see where the leadership team is taking the organisation and how innovation is used to find new solutions to important problems that customers and the organisation face.

Employees need to see how they can get personally involved. For example, the organisation could run shark-tank-like competitions that promote important Innovation Challenges the organisation is facing and seek help from employees to solve them.


Building employee capability to innovate is where employee training and coaching come in.

Employees must have a common understanding of what innovation is, the different types of innovation, and the framework for how to innovate that leaders have agreed on.

Employees need to be able to follow a step-by-step process to find creative ways to solve important problems aligned with the organisation’s vision and focus areas that the leadership team is aligned on.

It is important to consider that not everyone needs to be an innovation expert or will want to be. You will need some Innovation Champions, your passionate experts, to guide others through the innovation process, but also consider how you can include brief innovation training within your onboarding program.

Engagement and Enablement

Employees are most effective when engaged, feel motivated to innovate, and are enabled when managers help remove barriers to innovation.

However, when they feel engaged but NOT enabled, which often happens when a group is trained but not given opportunities to put their new skills into practice, they are left frustrated.

Alternatively, if they are NOT engaged but enabled with resources available at their fingertips, innovation won’t happen as they lack the emotional drive. Both engagement and enablement are vital and need to be considered.

Truly creating a more innovative organisation takes more than throwing money at Innovation-training businesses and sitting back. If you take the time to consider the four factors in the LACE Model, they will help guide you on your path to transforming your organisation to becoming an innovation leader.


LACE Model Summary:

1. Leadership alignment

    • The leadership team has set a clear vision and focus areas for where innovation efforts need to be targeted and where impact can be measured.
    • The leadership team shares a common understanding of what innovation is, types, and process.

2. Awareness

    • Employees are aware of the organisation’s vision and focus areas.
    • Employees understand how they can personally be involved in innovation.

3. Capability

4. Engagement and enablement

    • Employees feel motivated to innovate.
    • Employees have support from their managers to remove barriers for innovation to happen.

    In summary, these are the four factors that you need for innovation to flourish in your organisation. If you fail to consider any one of these factors, your organisation will struggle with innovation.

    Want to talk more about igniting and embedding innovation in your organisation? Contact us.

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