Innovation or get left behind, that’s how the saying goes. However, it is important to point out that organizations don’t innovate—people do. Empowering your employees (and partners) will yield greater innovative success if you can properly manage the following best practices.
Communicate the Innovation Imperative
Employees need to know why innovation is important to the company, and how a more innovative company will deliver outcomes to benefit all.
Create an Innovation Strategy
Activities should be focused around corporate goals and KPIs, which leverage core strengths and assets. Develop your strategy around how innovation will build on current success to achieve overall targets.
Give employees the freedom and flexibility to impact the innovation strategy. Create programs to trigger employees and partners to contribute innovative ideas that align with the innovation strategy goals.
Seek External Relationships
Customers, suppliers, partners and even competitors can be sources of innovation. Find a way to include “open innovation” in your innovation plans.
Identify the Best Opportunities
Focusing on the best opportunities increases the benefits of innovation. Stimulate the next generation of new ideas by communicating both the criteria and decision outcomes across the organization.
Implement With Speed
Innovations only provide values when they are implemented. Failure to implement good ideas promptly is one of the biggest barriers to build an innovation culture. Ensure that the few projects selected are properly resourced and implemented in a timely fashion—and that the results are communicated to stakeholders.
Identify & Remove Barriers
Many organizations unintentionally stifle innovation through their management culture and systems. An innovation program needs to identify potential barriers and remove or reduce those that are critical.
Incent & Reward
Show employees that their contribution is valued, both for good ideas and successful implementation. Importantly, some innovations will fail—make sure that failures are seen as learning opportunities—not causes for punishment.
Walk the Talk
A corporate push to innovate loses its momentum quickly if the inspirational words are not backed up with action. Management needs to ensure that innovation is seen as the priority, and not just something that is nice to do.
Monitor & Measure
Innovation involves constant change, so it can’t run on autopilot. Monitor current innovation projects and ensure timely corrective action as required. Measure the performance of the innovation process itself and look for opportunities to refine and improve it.
Image credit: CC by PopTech