Back to basics: Define appropriate goals

Photo: by earl53

In previous posts, we’ve made the case for purpose-led innovation. However, it’s also true that, in some cases, the ‘job to be done’ can entail ‘softer’ ambitions, namely, creating an innovation culture and embedding an innovation capability.

These are ambitious goals and definitely deliver high returns to organisations when implemented successfully. The trick, in our experience, is to tie these objectives with more tangible, shorter-term business challenges. Call it an ‘insurance’ – it prevents your initiative from being shut down by results-starved executives looking for short-term, return-on-investment measures.

The opposite approach is also surprisingly common. When launching an innovation initiative with specific business aims, make sure you track some of the side benefits of your efforts. Many of them are difficult to measure but have to be accounted for, especially increased collaboration and organisational learning levels and a stronger two-way communication channel between top management and the rest of the organisation.

When kicking off any effort, at Exago, we advise our clients to track very simple metrics:

– Number of individuals that participated in the effort
– Number of individuals prepared by any sort of training event
– Number of ideas and insights generated
– Innovation and challenge perception (through a company questionnaire/survey)

As your initiatives move forward, track your progress: Communicate and claim the appetisers, while the main courses are still being prepared.

In the end, it’s about results
Today, innovation is under fire as a ‘fad’ to be replaced by pragmatism. Budgets are shrinking and ‘soft’ outcomes no longer claim the attention of the boardroom. In other words, innovation without results is useless.

This being said, always remember to align your innovation efforts with your company’s specific business functional or operational challenges, engaging your people in the process. Addressing leadership’s agenda through innovation – while reaping some side benefits – is more and more often the recipe for successul and sustained innovation initiatives.

FROM THE START:
1. Back to basics: Why are we doing this, really?

Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder
pcc@exago.com

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