A successful innovation programme needs to be focused yet dynamic, fast yet considered.To implement a programme that gets high returns from your people’s brain power we look at key lessons learned from innovation programmes that work.
Equip business to drive innovation
A blanket objective for the business to innovate from only one source, like the Innovation Department, is often limiting. Business units, functions and teams should be equipped to drive innovation within their lines. Here they can apply their expertise and insights to continuous improvement while contributing to the broader business-wide innovation intent driven by the Innovation Department or the likes thereof. Innovation programmes, when made relevant to the daily function of employees, yields more results.
Speed up innovation through “livelines”
Use “liveliness” to release offerings to test-customers, instead of deadlines which tend to stifle an idea before it’s seen the light of day. Livelines release offerings and products at the stage they are at, at a set time. Similar to an MVP (minimum viable product) mentality, the business can release more offerings before progressing into polished products. This is a far faster, cheaper, and resource-lean approach to business evolution. This applies across the business – to all solutions, including operational offerings.
Give innovation direction
Setting the playing field for innovation is critical. Strategic focus, themes or intents are important to give team members guidance to the type of thinking that is required. With a direction in place people can apply those guide rails within their own areas.
Examples include: New market entry, cost saving, new products, higher efficiency.
The right people, the right time
Move ideas through people, quickly. One element within a innovation life-cycle that slows innovation down is trying to move ideas through the wrong people. To get an idea unstuck from the mud select smaller expert teams to progress an idea from thought to viable business solution.
The faster an idea is validated the faster the business can implement or move on to the next idea. Use cross-functional team members to validate an idea at the same time. Multiple insights, while using the method of “liveline” releases makes for highly dynamic innovation. In an agile process this is done at the beginning of a sprint (rapid development iterations).
A key driving force behind breakthrough ideas is collaborative thinking. But, you should move away from the time consuming components of collaboration – endless meetings, email trails, etc. Bring thinking together by cross-pollinating ideas in one, virtual place that all team members have access to.
Give the “top” tools
Like many things in business, the “top” must drive innovation. But without smart tools leadership tends to resort back to town-halls and email blasts. Give leaders a channel that allows them to set their innovation challenges and ways for them to actively participate in, and evaluate innovation activity. When leaders are seen contributing within an innovation programme team members dramatically increase their participation.
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