Set the timing right for your innovation challenges

Now that you have identified your key innovation challenges and built them properly, remember to set the timings. Not only does the commitment to a deadline make participants focus, but this also helps you when defining goals with realistic deadlines.

Still, this does not mean one-time, finite initiatives or efforts. As one of our client says, ‘Innovation requires a lot of work, not only to describe ideas well but also to develop them.’ This is true from ideation through to collaborative idea improvement and implementation. For optimal results, you also have to roll-out an appropriate, ongoing communication plan, as described before, establishing medium- to long-term commitment to the project and implementing top ideas as you move forward.

Each cycle end further gives you the time you need to concentrate on implementation, evaluate the initiative, make improvement, tweak ideas and prepare to launch the next cycle of challenges.

THESE ACTIVATION QUESTIONS CAN HELP YOU:
  • How much time do we need to address this challenge?
  • Is a solution reachable within a two to three-month challenge? Or should we break down the challenge further?

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

READ MORE:
Five key dimensions for building your innovation challenges

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

Are you building your innovation challenges right?

Having identified your key innovation challenges – aligned with your company’s higher purpose and strategic goals and made attainable, useful and targeted – it’s time to focus on describing them plainly and completely, to guarantee you’ll get meaningful content:

  • Make your innovation challenges as specific as you can: Break down the challenge’s macro theme into smaller challenges. We’ve learned that the narrower the scope of the challenge, the more imaginative the audience becomes, thus the more meaningful the ideas you’ll secure.
  • Clearly state and justify the need for a solution: Explain why exactly we can all benefit from this challenge.
  • Contextualise the problem and share the findings: Try to understand what has been done within that precise topic in the past, by your company and other competitors. Background checking can recall opportunities, dismiss dead ends and provide key ways to explain the innovation challenge in more detail to participants.
  • Promote ideation with related insights: These last are very useful tools to share the learning process and background details with participants.
  • Make sure also to respect grammar and orthography and send out clear messages:
    • Communications of challenges must use correct syntactic structures and clear sentences.
    • Vocabulary has to be familiar to participants. Business or technical jargon may seem obvious to you. Don’t assume it is to others.
    • Direct questions are a good option, when used in a positive way. This is true even for more driven exploration challenges.

If people do not understand the challenges they face, how can you expect them to participate? Unclear language will also compromise your audience’s future participation.

Here’s a client insight on the subject:

‘It’s very important to add insights and share them in ways we know will mean employees will check these insights.

Usually, our insights include descriptive information provided by the area that manages the subject, including some statistical data. We want to make sure our teams understand the challenges, particularly when these are more complex, and avoid the submission of ideas that we have already implemented or discussed.

Imagine the challenge “How to encourage SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] to set up online stores?”: In this case, we would present statistical information on SMEs in our country, explaining how many there are, what their types are and so on, so that employees understand the target better. Also, we would mention our company’s current offer for these customers, changes and improvements that have already been planned and possible tempting proposals that have been analysed but are not yet in the market (i.e. trying to ward off those apparently obvious ideas).’

Finally, try these activation questions:

  • Am I saying clearly how we can all benefit from this challenge?
  • Is this really one or more challenges? If so, which ones?
  • Are we asking the right questions?
  • What other approaches were attempted in the past?
  • Are we providing enough insights to power ideation?

 

READ MORE:
Set the timing right for your innovation challenges

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

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

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

A step-by-step guide to defining your innovation challenges

Based on our experience with clients and an analysis of 164 challenges they implemented over the past years, we have identified some trends on how to pick a successful set of challenges. But how exactly can you establish and structure them? We give you a hand.

Having signaled some best practices and understanding what works and what doesnt’, we now share samples of our Idea System Launch – a step-by-step procedure to help you set up your own challenges and enhance overall initiative effectiveness.

At a strategic level, this system supports you in aligning initiative and company goals, an overall purpose that needs to be considered and clearly stated. At a more operational level, it helps you ensure usefulness and attainability, learn how to target the right audiences and then focus needs and determine specific challenges, within a time period.

This is its mainframe:

ultimate innovation challenge

We will next see it in more detail.

 

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

READ MORE:
First, ask what your innovation purpose is

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

KPMG’s survey reveals how collaboration is central to success

Exago has partnered with KPMG in Portugal to promote the first global ‘Innovation Survey’ to companies operating in the country. Survey findings show how companies that systematically pursue collaboration opportunities have a significantly higher rate of commercially successful product launches and nearly twice as much revenue growth.

Three hundred participants at the European level took part in the survey, 39 of which were from Portugal. Overall, KPMG’s analysis concluded that good innovators in organisations with a budget allocated to innovation strategy and an idea management solution in place also have the largest share of revenue coming from successful new products launched in the last three years.

The data reveals as well that investing in product development and enhancement impacts positively on revenue growth. Yet it’s interesting to see how companies that focus on innovation to find new sales channels and on customer experience and satisfaction improvement have benefited from even higher revenue growth rates in the last three years (> 5%).

However, where innovation is concerned, the journey for companies is still a long one. There is a lack of well-structured innovation management processes to stimulate it and a lack of experience, as the battle to recruit talented innovators is growing.

The survey includes an in-depth analysis and insights from KPMG’s global experts and Exago’s CEO on subjects such as:

  • How is idea management structured?
  • Why is collaboration needed?
  • Where do companies focus their efforts, how do they finance innovation and what are the companies’ challenges?
  • How are corporates responding to the drivers of innovation and positioning their strategies?
  • What separates good from bad innovators?

You can check out Portugal’s results here. A short summary is also available below in English.

 


KPMG INNOVATION SURVEY 2016 – EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

‘1. Collaboration is crucial to success
Companies that systemically search for collaboration opportunities secure a higher success rate for their products and almost double the increase in income.

2. The building of broader innovation skills demands a more complex transformation process
In spite of evidence that supports the focus on collaboration efforts, only a few companies enjoy effective collaboration, as it requires a complex transformation process at both a cultural and an operational level.

3. Business model innovation offers significant opportunities in a world dominated by innovative products
The main focus in all industries is product development and improved process development. However, the creation of new selling channels, alternative income models and the discovery of new or present needs might have the same level of impact as the innovation of the company’s main functions and the product itself.

4. The war for talented professionals is ongoing
Most of the time, the main challenge that companies face in terms of innovation is related to lack of people with the required competences and the necessary experience.

5. Fine innovators have an implemented innovation policy
Companies that have implemented process management and innovative governance models enjoy a high rate of success with their products and a significant share of their income comes from products launched in the past three years. However, only 16% of companies use this approach in the management of their innovation programmes.

6. In spite of the importance of commercial deadlines, the inability to meet deadlines is where most projects fail
Meeting deadlines in the project’s chronogram is the main challenge of ongoing projects, with about 30% of projects falling behind schedule. The speed of commercialisation is particularly important as it can generate a competitive advantage.

7. Collaboration is anchored to your comfort zone
Research and Development (R&D) collaborations are particularly important, even if companies often find themselves limited to only business partners. Collaboration with universities, start-ups and incubators is much less common. Different kinds of collaboration partners have different strong points and contribute with different skills and resources. For that reason, diversifying collaboration partners offers more opportunities than maintaining a single collaboration with only one type of partner’.