What to do…

To foster innovation in your company, you can improve any of the key phases of an effective innovation process. These phases are:

  • Creating innovation
  • Capturing innovation
  • Capitalizing on innovation

These three phases are embedded in the organization’s processes and structures, and ‘interact’ with the organization. In addition to the phases by themselves, it is also possible to improve the way the innovation process matches your organization.

Here is what you can do:

1. Improve how you create innovation:

Generating ideas is a constant activity your organization should embark on. You need to communicate to your employees that coming up with ideas on how to improve products, services, processes and any aspect on how the company operates is part of their job. When was the last time you mentioned in a team meeting that new ideas are welcome? When did you last tell them they should come to you when they have an idea? And as with all communication, it is not enough to communicate this once and then assume everyone will remember it. You need to reinforce this message on an ongoing bases: make it part of the regular messages you communicate to employees.

You can kick start your idea generation initiatives by holding an ‘ideation meeting’. The purpose of this meeting is exclusively to focus on idea generation. The meeting is most effective if one person focuses on the facilitation of the meeting and does not take part in the idea generation process. There are many tools you can use to spark ideas and to get the group into the right frame of mind for idea generation. To learn more about idea generation tools, don’t miss Josef’s best recommendations in the Books section.

2. Improve how you capture innovation:

To build an effective and sustainable innovation effort, you need a process for capturing innovation. It is simply not enough to tell employees they can come forward with ideas – there needs to be a process in place. Having a dedicated process tells employees that you are serious about innovation, and it also ensures that you actually handle the ideas that are brought forward. One of the greatest innovation killers is to tell employees that their ideas are valued only to have them bring ideas forward without any follow up or evaluation process. Having a process that properly captures innovation, and takes ideas from their very early stages to a fully-developed stage, keeps you honest about your own innovation efforts.

How do you best capture innovation? The options range from a simple suggestion box with follow up to an evaluation panel with budget authority. For examples on how different organizations have handled this question, take a look in our book section. We’d be glad to answer questions and share our experience of what works and what doesn’t. Click here to send us an email with your questions and we’ll respond promptly.

3. Improve how you capitalize on innovation:

title=”Marketing Innovation”>‘market’ your innovation. This can be internal marketing if the innovation is a process, structural or management innovation.  Or, if the innovation is a product or service innovation,it will require effective external marketing that is targeted to your customers.

The best way to market your

innovation also depends on who does the marketing. This may either be a dedicated marketing department or it may be the ‘innovator’ himself or herself. To ensure the highest possible ROI for your innovation, we recommend innovation workshops that cover all the possible skills you and your organization need to develop and market your innovation successfully. Request more information about Innovation Workshops.

A story about making innovation processes fit within your organizational structure:

A common misunderstanding about the innovation process is that managers try to pick initiatives that work for other companies and then try to copy them for their own organization. This does not work. Russell Ackoff, a noted systems theorist, has described it this way: Suppose you could build a dream car that included the styling of a Jaguar, the power plant of a Porsche, the suspension of a BMW, and the interior of a Rolls Royce. Put them together and what have you got? (drumroll….) Watch the video to find out!

The same is true when you try to fit an innovation process into your organization: you cannot simply take ideas from Google’s approach to creativity, or Procter & Gamble’s marketing of innovation, or Apple’s user experience solutions and throw them all together. It won’t work, because your culture, your processes and your structures won’t allow it. The only way to design an innovation process that works for you is to custom design it. Period. Request more information.

Want some pointers on how to start?  Just click here to send us an email with specific questions and we will respond with suggestions. We look forward to hearing from you!