Six common mistakes and one advice for innovation challenges

Operational efficiency is clearly ahead in idea implementation, while sales and marketing, sustainability and better customer experience count for more than half of all the ideas implemented. By dissecting the innovation challenges that performed the worst – and excluding extrinsic factors such as a weak system of incentives and feeble, meagre or uninteresting communication – we note that these challenges tend to be:

a. Unfamiliar or distant from people’s everyday work and needs;
b. Detached from current business strategic alignment: This may happen, for instance, if you launch a challenge focused on anticorruption, social inclusion or ecosystem protection, but your company has never, in your daily practices and initiatives, really shown interest in such themes;
c. Too technical for the target audience: Both technical and business jargon has the power to dismiss and demobilise larger parts of your audience;
d. Too abstract: Remember that, the wider the scope, the more people tend to submit ideas that are irrelevant for your business;
e. Too narrow: Yet, if you completely limit the scope, you may miss some relevant insights;
f. Ambiguous or difficult to understand: Linguistic complexity, such as unclear or complex sentences, may make you lose your audience’s focus and attention.

One of our clients suggests as well that “communication is important, but, if you find it is too important, then all the rest is poorly structured. You cannot feed a fire just with straw. . . Guidance on how to write a good idea must go well beyond mouseover suggestions.”

Also, remember that, even if you map the right tools and needs, other factors can still undermine the success and participation in your innovation programme. For instance, you should not expect highly engaging initiatives without first planning and rolling out an appropriate communication plan, as well as adequate awards, recognition and implementation mechanisms. In the next posts, we seek to give you a hand in establishing and structuring your innovation challenges.

Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO/
Francisco Bernardes, Exago’s head of Innovation Services/

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

Your ultimate innovation challenge – what works and what doesn’t

What’s your ultimate innovation challenge?

How much time do you spend thinking about your company’s problems? Probably too much, you would say. Yet, when planning and developing your collaborative innovation initiatives, the way you identify, frame and share your organisation’s challenges with your targeted community is key to your initiatives’ success.

But what are your most relevant challenges? Which topics are more common or easily embraced by your employees? And what techniques can help you both choose and define your challenges?

At Exago, we’ve decided to revisit our clients’ challenges over past years, to understand what has and hasn’t worked in the field in different realities, as well as collecting wisdom from this experience. In our most recent videocast, Exago’s senior consultant Vânia Vargues, and Francisco Bernardes, our head of Innovation Services, tell you more on what we’ve learned. Check it out!

Are you also interested in?
– Main trends and industry best practices
– Real clients’ challenges data analysis
– Lessons learnt: What works best and what doesn’t work – six common mistakes
– A step-by-step guide to defining your challenges

We can share the related in-depth paper. Just reach us at

This may not be changing fast enough in the hospitality sector

If someone is going to disrupt your business model, it better be you’, says Exago’s director and cofounder. Pedro do Camo Costa speaks to fashion editor Juliana Cavalcanti in an interview to inspire Jeroen Gulickx’s upcoming book ‘A Hotelier’s Mind, setting strategy for the future’.

In a world with fast evolving consumer patterns, the hospitality sector seems to be lagging behind, trapped in orthodoxies. Most of the changes with largest impacts, in fact, have come from outside the industry, Pedro highlights.

How can hotels innovate faster then? And where will the biggest opportunities come from? Engaged employees, customers’ insights and bolder experimentation will be increasingly key.

Check out the full interview here.

Your innovation journey, why is it relevant anyway?

You may have the resources and the tools to move along your innovation journey, but if the outcomes seem irrelevant, so does the entire innovation initiative. How do you solve this?

Simple but essential: pick the right fights, the ones the business needs to focus on. From our experience, successful innovation managers have triumphed by negotiating innovation challenges with business unit leaders. Take leader´s challenges and name them innovation challenges – you will have your own champion.

What´s more, we´ve learned, the narrower the scope of the challenge, the more imaginative the audience becomes. The more ideas you will secure.

You should also have a mechanism that recognises participation and engagement. This means rewarding idea generation and participations that create value. By and by, celebrate idea implementation and identify the relevance and impact upon your business.

Read more:
No returns, no play

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

Taking the innovation journey? Remember to harness these resources

As we,ve seen, innovation demands resilience, and both top-down and bottom-up support. It may not always seem obvious, but you’ll also need a constituency inside the company to provide support throughout the different phases of the innovation process.

Ongoing training programs that ‘produce’ innovation practitioners is one way to get it. Find the best (we modestly hope we can help) to support you in designing and developing a specific set of outcomes defined to increase the success of initiatives – by improving content quality, accelerating throughput and de-risking opportunities.

Moreover, secure a minimum three year budget. That way a commitment is made and risk of short term shut-down is minimised. Additionally, ensure your budget includes funds to support promising and interesting business ventures that stagnate simply because they don’t have a natural owner in the organisational chart.

Read more:
Your innovation journey, why is it relevant anyway?

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