Cross-border innovation initiatives: 10 best practices

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‘To make your idea management initiatives thrive across countries, you need high levels of engagement, as well as process efficiency to manage this engagement and its outputs’, said Pedro do Carmo Costa. Exago’s director spoke at the Innovation Management.se Channel One Roundtable Discussion, sharing field-tested best practices to ensure international companies succeed in their innovation efforts.

The webinar ‘How to run corporate innovation initiatives in multinational organisations’ took place on 22 October. Lars Percy Andersson, Innovation Management CEO and founder, hosted the session.

‘Multi-geography, multilingual and, above all, multicultural staff bring significant complexity to already challenging, corporation-wide idea programmes. But they bring significant value, too’, said Pedro. You get valuable content, learning and collaboration, strategy alignment and engagement – with high levels of participation and contribution, making innovation everyone’s job.

Key success factors
To successfully run such a complex initiative, start by ‘creating relevance in the jobs-to-be-done and purpose of the business challenges communicated to the organisation’, Pedro explained.

Next, ‘to generate and sustain high levels of engagement, you will need a collaborative platform or system. This will allow you to process all that engagement and deliver measurable outcomes, both tangible and intangible.’

To move forward globally, Exago’s director recommends that you: get your leadership’s commitment; secure a budget (at least a three-year budget); gather and prepare your human resources; define a higher purpose; find (local) relevance; always communicate clearly; define an appealing incentives plan; use social tools wisely; be transparent and, finally, get, measure and share results.

‘These top practices guide you in designing your cross-country idea management governance model and process definition. They help you maximise your results.’

The ultimate challenge multinationals face, Pedro do Carmo Costa concludes, is to harness their greatest asset efficiently: ‘the knowledge and expertise of their people, spread across the organisation and the globe.’

You can watch the webinar recording here. If you are interested in learning more about the ‘10 best practices to make it work’, get access to the paper here.

Webinar: How to effectively run innovation initiatives in multinationals

Building a unique corporate and innovation culture is not easy to achieve, especially in a multi-cultural, multi-business and multi-language environment. The obstacles are many, from geography to cultural, business and technical idiosyncrasies. Join Exago and Innovation Management.se (IM) on October 22 to learn from the Enel case study and identify the key success factors to efficiently run an idea management programme across borders.

The session takes place at 5:00 PM Central European Time / 8:00 AM US Pacific Time / 11:00 AM US Eastern Time. Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder, hosts the webinar, with Carlo Napoli’s special participation. Carlo Napoli is the head of Innovation Knowledge and Community at Enel SpA.

In this live IM Channel One Roundtable Discussion, you get the opportunity to learn from a real case study from Enel, Italy’s largest power company and Europe’s second listed utility by installed capacity. The multinational operates in 34 countries across 4 continents, serving 61 million customers.

Enel’s fresh experience in implementing a global initiative gives a useful blueprint, if you want to run a cross borders idea management programme, so as to achieve corporate alignment, employee’s engagement and seed a culture of innovation.

What main challenges will be addressed?
The ultimate task for multinationals today is to efficiently harness their greatest asset: the knowledge and expertise of its people, spread across the organisation and the globe.

One of the main challenges for companies is to learn how to manage transnational innovation initiatives; to collect everyone’s ideas and insights, regardless of individuals’ geographical dispersion; create a collaborative environment where ideas are discussed and enriched; and evaluate proposals, in an unbiased way, to find the best answers.

The Enel case study
Following a pioneering experience started in one of its subsidiaries in Latin America in 2011, Enel launched in February 2014 a global innovation crowdsourcing initiative.

This initiative involves about 60.000 employees, in 34 countries – an example of how to effectively design and run a global innovation programme, engaging people who speak different languages, live in different countries and work in different businesses.

Interested in registering? Sign up here.

Fast and low-cost experiments reduce new concepts’ risk

Photo: by Anna Dziubinska in Unsplash.com

How can you mitigate the risk associated with bringing new or unfamiliar industry concepts to market? ‘Disciplined experimentation and agile commercialisation is the best way to do it’, says Peter Skarzynski.

The top innovation strategist spoke on October 2, at the last of three webinars featuring his special participation. The session was hosted by Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder.

In previous presentations*, Peter defined guidelines and techniques for sustaining innovation within organisations and promoting insight-enabled innovation. This time he shared principles and methods of de-risking promising but uncertain concepts through a ‘test-learn-apply’ approach to commercialisation.

Understand the risks
The de-risking process starts with surfacing and prioritising critical unknowns regarding customers, economics and operational capabilities. According to the best-selling author, this means adopting an end-to-end view – building genuine expectations by asking: ‘What is our product and service point of difference? Who is the target and what is the benefit delivered? How do we go to market? Configure our channels? Create and capture value?’

‘Too many organisations view risk too generally and abstractly. You have to understand the difference between perceived and actual risks, such as regulatory, legal and geopolitical: things you can’t change,’ Peter said. So, ‘stretch, elaborate and iterate the opportunity’.

Test fast, test cheap and scale up
Then you have to learn and refine the opportunity through market experiments. Peter elaborated, ‘Design and manage an in-market experimentation plan to refine and iterate your new concept, often through small, cheap, fast, under-the-radar experiments.’

Innovation means experimenting boldly and often, since failure is part of the process. Peter gave Google as an example. ‘In one year, Google explored more than 13,000 proposed changes, 8,200 were tested in side-by-side comparisons, 2,800 were evaluated further in “live traffic”, 516 improvements were made to the search algorithm. That´s a 95% failure rate.’

Having enabled rapid experimentation, in-market scale steps in. But the process does not end. ‘Experimentation techniques can and should be used post-launch too, as they continue creating value’, he concludes. ‘Post launch innovation and experimentation is a practitioner’s frontier.’

Peter Skarzynski advises large, global organisations on strategy, innovation and organisational change and is a recognised leading expert in enabling renewal and growth by embedding innovation sustainably in large companies. He is a frequent corporate and conference speaker and a best-selling author. Recently published, his ‘The Innovator’s Field Guide’ (Wiley, 2014) details market proven methods and approaches to address the most critical innovation challenges facing organisations of any size.

*Have you missed Peter’s previous webinars? Know more here:
‘How can you sustain innovation inside your organisation?’
‘Insight enabled innovation: Principles and practice’

Feel free to request more information at webinars@exago.com.

Skarzynski shares techniques to mitigate innovation uncertainties

In his next and final Exago webinar, Peter Skarzynski addresses the topic ‘How can agile commercialisation reframe and mitigate innovation uncertainties’, related to bringing unknown-to-the company or new industry concepts to market. The session takes place on October 2, at 12 pm EST (5 pm GMT+1).

With real world examples from both B2B and B2C environments, the top innovation strategist will advise on how to manage and improve the understanding of a new-to-the company concept relative to investment.

Having defined the guidelines and techniques to sustain innovation within organisations and to promote insight enabled innovation, in previous presentations*, Peter now shares principles and techniques to derisk promising but uncertain concepts through a ‘test-learn-apply’ approach to commercialisation. He takes idea management one step further, sharing key highlights of his recently published book ‘The Innovator’s Field Guide’.

Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder, is hosting the webinar. This 45-minute session deals with three main topics:

  • Surface and prioritise the key unknowns regarding customer, capabilities and economics, e.g.: Market want and need – ‘Will they want it?’; Operational capabilities – ‘Can we execute it?’; Economics – ‘Can we create and capture value?’;
  • Design and manage an iterative, in-market experimentation plan to refine and iterate your new concept, often through small, cheap, fast, under the radar experiments;
  • Borrow techniques from software development to improve upon newly launched, in market concepts which are falling short of their anticipated potential.

Peter Skarzynski advises large, global organisations on strategy, innovation and organisational change and is recognised as a leading expert in enabling renewal and growth by embedding innovation sustainably in large companies. He is a frequent corporate and conference speaker and a best selling author. Recently published, his ‘The Innovator’s Field Guide’ (Wiley, 2014) details market proven methods and approaches to address the most critical innovation challenges facing organisations of any size.

Interested? Register here.

*Have you missed Peter’s previous webinars? Know more here:
‘How can you sustain innovation inside your organisation?’
‘Insight enabled innovation: Principles and practice’

Feel free to request more information at webinars@exago.com.

Purpose first in innovation management, says Skarzynski

To create a successful innovation challenge, ‘you need to be very clear on the purpose for which you are launching the challenge and on the process that suits that’, Peter Skarzynski explains. Plus, ‘there have to be some incentives’ for participation. The top innovation strategist spoke on innovation management at the latest Exago webinar, on 4 September.

Following up on his first Exago webinar, ‘How to sustain innovation inside organisations’, this time he addressed the subject ‘Insight enabled innovation: Principles and practice’.

The 45-minute session, hosted by Exago’s director, Pedro do Carmo Costa, dealt with three main topics: harnessing the collective intelligence of the organisation in terms of insights about the customer, the context and the company; converting those insights into a proprietary point of view; generating ideas based on these insights.

The next webinar featuring this bestselling author – ‘Sustaining innovation: From ideas to value’ – takes place on 2 October, at 5 pm GMT+1 (12 pm EST).

The job to be done
‘What job do you want innovation to do within your organisation?’ This is the first question you have to ask, Peter says. You need to develop an end-to-end view of innovation management.

Leadership’s role should also be clear, he adds. You must have visible advocates for innovation inside your organisation, as well as address different dimensions of innovation. These include your product or service and its point of difference; customer target and the benefits delivered; go-to-market strategy; ways to configure channels and a plan to sustain advantage while creating and capturing value.

Where do great ideas come from?
Great ideas come from great entrepreneurs who tend to break with orthodoxies – but also from insight-driven innovation. ‘Smart-enough people is not enough when you want a scalable approach’, Peter explains.

Surface unmet customer needs. Challenge dogma. Anticipate disruption. Extend and repurpose know-how. These are the kinds of insights you need to develop, according to this innovation strategist.

So, ‘start with insights, use the right to ideate’. Next, use insights to shape a point of view, to start exploring possibilities – ‘creating ideas which ladder up to strategic innovation domains’. ‘Innovation thrives when it becomes a systemic capability’, he concludes.

Peter Skarzynski advises large, global organisations on strategy, innovation and organisational change and is recognised as a leading expert in enabling renewal and growth by embedding innovation sustainably in large companies. He is a frequent corporate and conference speaker and a best selling author. Recently published, his “The Innovator’s Field Guide” (Wiley, 2014) details market proven methods and approaches to address the most critical innovation challenges facing organisations of any size.