How to conquer your Daily Innovation Zone

Once you’ve understood the four quadrants of the innovation model – steady growth, productivity gain, industry leadership, game change -, you’ll need a plan to conquer your own Daily Innovation Zone. This means also learning how to create game changing innovation with minimum cost and risk.

To do it, consider the green zone at the bottom of the model. This is the daily innovation zone and spreads across from process to product innovation but in a narrow band on the boundary of incremental change.

Innovation Quadrant for Corporate Innovation

The theory is that a company that trains itself to constantly innovate in this zone – small changes and improvements on a daily basis – will most certainly position itself to deliver that big radical, game changing product or industry leading process in the long run. These baby steps would help the company start small, take lower risks, and make innovation a part of its DNA.

Daily innovation is more about building a culture of innovation. It is not about creating an “innovation committee” or “working group.” It is about motivating everyone in the organization to think like an innovator, celebrating daily improvements in the life of the organization. A zone where saving a sheet of paper is treated on par with reducing the cost of production, or adding a new feature to a product.

From janitor to CEO, everyone is involved in the process. Self-driven, motivated and eager to make a change – with a sense of pride at the changes they bring and a reward that may be as little as a pat on the back.

READ MORE:
Creativity, creative leadership and the value of innovation management

FROM THE START:
“Innovation is not for us”, they say

By Rumman Ahmad. An MSc in Creativity and Change Leadership from Buffalo State University, Rumman trains, teaches and facilitates groups of people to learn and apply the creative process to solve problems, energizing and motivating them to do their best. He is also the organizer of an annual conference on innovation in Pakistan. An Exago partner since 2016 in this key geography, Rumman has developed a Model for Daily Innovation which can be complemented by Exago’s innovation management software.

First, ask what your innovation purpose is

Nike’s goal is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world’. Starbuck’s motto is ‘to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time’. What is your company’s mission? And how does your initiative take part in carrying it out?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to purpose. When launching your innovation initiative, you must first clearly identify what is your higher strategic purpose – the one that will bind together your leadership, management and employees.

From our experience, getting key players inside your organisation aligned is hard, requiring diplomatic and pragmatic skills. When launching your innovation effort, you must also find a way to communicate that the initiative is bigger than just a simple project with a set of processes and tools. Individual employees need a meaningful purpose to motivate them to dedicate their free time to activities that are not part of their official job description.

You thus need to follow up on, and build on, your organisation’s mission. Define a purpose for your innovation effort and identify ‘the jobs-to-be-done’ through innovation. Show your team that this is an opportunity to shape the company’s future, to out-differentiate the competition.

Whether you seek to apply innovation management to meeting very explicit business challenges or to creating a company-wide culture and capabilities, ask yourself, ‘What do we want to change?’ Understanding your ambitions helps you define a migration path, set your expectations, get the challenges right and allocate resources more rationally.

Your challenges thus have to be aligned with your company’s higher purpose and the strategic objectives you set. You should also define clearly what you want to accomplish and why, as well as the specific needs your chosen challenges address.

Try these ativation questions:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What do we want to change in our organisation?
  • What are our organisation’s specific needs that are addressed by this challenge, and how can people relate to them? (Focus on the problem, on defining its scope instead of jumping to a solution.)
  • What is the desired outcome? (Understand the perspectives of customers, stakeholders and other beneficiaries. This should be addressed qualitatively and quantitatively whenever possible.)
  • How does this connect with our company’s mission? And with more strategic goals?

We will next see the importance of picking useful and feasible fights, when launching your innovation challenges.

Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO/ dnc@exago.com
Francisco Bernardes, Exago’s head of Innovation Services/ fmb@exago.com

READ MORE:
How to pick useful and feasible ‘fights’ for innovation challenges

FROM THE START:
Your ultimate innovation challenge – what works and what doesn’t

Finally, your 7th innovation journey must-have

Last but not least, when launching your innovation management effort, remember to find a way to communicate why the initiative is bigger than just a simple project with a set of processes and tools. A strategic intent that shows the outcomes of the effort will not only benefit the company, but your people and the world we live in.

Show your teams that this is the opportunity to define the company’s future, to out-differentiate our competition and, more importantly, to write history together.

In short, make sure you find what makes you all jump out of bed in the morning. It´s the ultimate must-have to guarantee, over time, a seat in the Innovation Journey.

Ready to board? Check your must-haves:
Are you ready for your innovation journey?

Is it clear enough? Your innovation journey 6th must-have

From the beginning of your innovation efforts, people need to clearly understand the journey ahead and to feel they have a voice in the process.

At Exago, we are strong believers in the power of collective intelligence to envision new possibilities and deliver compelling results.

Based on this belief, we deliver a solution to generate and screen ideas, in an efficient and transparent way. Using gamification techniques, we have developed a virtual ‘stock market’ where individuals ‘invest’ in the ideas they feel offer the most value to the organisation. Through this ‘idea stock market’ all can participate and easily see and invest in the ideas they feel offer the most potential. Besides being efficient and fun, it’s a fully transparent process.

And again, it is never enough to reinforce it: you should communicate individual and group contributions and outcomes to ensure transparency and reap the engagement rewards.

Read more:
Finally, your 7th must-have

From the start:
Are you ready for your innovation journey?

No returns, no play. This is your innovation journey fifth must-have

No returns, no play. Many innovation programmes have been shut down based on this mindset. How to make sure that yours won’t?

Capture every single win at the beginning of the process, an incremental idea that is well supported, a significant level of participation.

Most innovations are the results of steady, continuous improvement. And they can deliver profound, often unexpected ‘intangible’ additional deliverables. Do not neglect them: engagement and strategy alignment outcomes; talent spotting; increased implementation opportunities.

Having a clear challenge owner is also critical. Someone who feels the urgency to solve it and who has the resources to implement solutions.

Communicate every single success. The more individuals see the success of projects to which they have contributed, the more likely they are to continue mobilised.

Read more:
Is it clear enough?

From the start:
Are you ready for your innovation journey?