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.

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

Here’s a simple but essential tip when establishing your innovation challenges: pick ‘fights’ that are useful and bring attainable value to your organisation. This means you need to guarantee your programme is relevant both to your people and company, namely:

• Make sure challenges have business relevance: Don’t solve problems you don’t have. Key business challenges make the most relevant innovation challenges.

• Also, remember to have problem sponsors: International idea management programmes have triumphed by negotiating innovation challenges with particular business unit leaders. Take leaders’ challenges and label them innovation challenges. This way, you’ll have your own champions. Understand, as well, what your champions’ motives are for solving the problem, since this builds you a stronger base from which to negotiate.

• Engage fully your C-level and innovation team: Prioritise those challenges that are useful to your C-level and make sure these leaders approve and support your initiatives. Leadership’s active involvement is key for programme success. Also, make sure that your innovation team is truly dedicated, embracing the tasks at hand.

• Identify key problems that need solving and can be solved: Look for discrete barriers to progress or opportunities within your innovation portfolio of projects. These can be articulated in a way that others, even those from diverse areas of expertise, have a chance to make important contributions to your progress. Also, be sure that your problems can be realistically solved. You need to raise the stakes, but you can’t afford to misuse resources.

HERE’S WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY ON THE SUBJECT:

‘Sponsorship’s impact is enormous, and we can clearly see this in the number of average market users. In years with higher sponsorship from the CEO and space in internal communication, as well as more attractive prizes, we have many more active users.

‘A staff of committed people must be present in the back-office. No leader can do things alone.’

‘The feasibility of an idea is mostly a function of one’s capability of elaborating, processing and developing it. Newborn ideas are neither good nor bad. They are just ideas (usually very raw). As a matter of fact, the final implementation is always very different from the original idea. Instead, good problem setting is very relevant.’

 

FINALLY, TRY THESE ACTIVATION QUESTIONS:
  • How relevant is this problem? How urgent?
  • Whose problem is this?
  • Who can sponsor and promote it?
  • Can this problem be solved?

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 mobilise the right audiences for innovation challenges

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

Decisions, decisions…

Be it through team idea contests or widespread programmes, we are enthusiasts of innovation’s number one rule: Give your teams a voice. Gather suggestions and insights and build on that knowledge together, as innovation becomes simply your way to do business.

One way or another, true employee engagement is more complicated than it seems, and it needs so much more than a carrot and stick philosophy. Millennial engagement? That raises the stakes even further. So, why not make participation more appealing, with fun challenges?

These days, we’re testing it for you!

TIP: The checklist for your innovation programme success

Photo: Will 66@Pixabay

Below is a checklist that, in our experience, will increase your odds of successfully implementing innovation initiatives. You will learn that there is never an ideal moment to get started and that you will never have all the necessary components aligned at the same time.

So, recapping the tips we’ve been sharing, make sure you have these in place before getting started:

What then?

(To be continued…)

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

FROM THE START: Innovation looks easy – it’s not

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