10 best practices for cross-border innovation. Number 7 ignites motivation

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‘What’s in it for me?’ is the question your people will ask. Incentives motivate people. It’s not necessarily about tangible rewards such as prizes, but, most of all, recognition. Being recognised and to gain visibility inside the organisation motivates people to contribute to idea management programmes in every stage of the process – from thinking to creation to action.

Give your affiliates enough autonomy to adapt the plans to the local reality. Design your incentives model thoroughly to be productive and appealing to ensure employees are engaged and aligned with leadership agenda. The incentives can address different motivations: From simple vouchers and charity donations to opportunities to training in specific areas.

In addition, you should have a mechanism that recognises 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:

  • When using online participation mechanisms, you can create a virtual leaderboard. It’s a great way of showing everyone who is helping your company to create more value, across branches.
  • Acknowledge, as well, people’s contributions outside the platform – for instance, public recognition in the year-end enterprise gettogether is a strong motivator.

# Offer rewards and recognition (a.k.a incentives)
# Give constant feedback

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

READ MORE:
Number 8 has to be properly geared

FROM THE START:
Innovation programme across borders: 10 best practices to make it work

10 best practices for cross-border innovation. Number 6 assures community awareness

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If people don’t come, your innovation efforts stand no chance. Active and clear communication is fundamental to maximising engagement, guaranteeing adequate participation. It also assures community awareness. Building a witty communication plan – one that lives and breathes innovation – is paramount for the success of your idea management programme across borders.

When putting it together, make sure you have a complete plan with clearly defined targeted audiences, across cultures and business units, key messages, a media strategy and frequency expectations. For such undertaking, you have to involve your HQ communication teams, as well as country and business communication teams, to develop more detailed and oriented plans.

Remember to communicate continuously, as the process evolves. The more individuals see the success of projects to which they have contributed, the more likely they are to remain mobilised.

#Have a witty communication plan
#Adapt communication locally
#Communicate continuously

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

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Number 7 ignites motivation

FROM THE START:
Innovation programme across borders: 10 best practices to make it work

10 best practices for cross-border innovation. Number 5 gets you to pick the right fights

Photo: Ryan McGuire@gratisography.com

Whether you seek to apply innovation management to solving very specific business challenges or to creating a companywide culture and capability, ask yourself, ‘What do I want to change in my organisation?’ Understanding your ambitions helps you materialise a migration path, set your expectations and allocate resources more rationally.

Therefore, guarantee your programme is relevant both to your people and to the organisation:

  • Have business relevance: Don’t solve problems you don’t have. Pick the right fights aligned with your strategic leadership agenda. Key business challenges make the most relevant innovation challenges.
  • Focus people’s attention on relevant matters: Channel awareness toward the need to tackle an explicit problem, concentrating your people’s collective intelligence on what really matters. Explain pressing needs and priorities but also the low-hanging fruit and other demands that can, in their own time, become equally important.
  • Narrow down your challenges: The narrower the scope of the challenge, the more imaginative the audience becomes. The more ideas you will secure.
    This is of crucial importance in widespread organisations – inefficiency in the headquarters compound energy usage in Switzerland is probably very irrelevant to your Peruvian employees. Even though corporate challenges do intersect your organisation, remember to align them to local reality, also giving space to specific priorities, within specific industry and geography scopes. Your local innovation advocates are crucial to defining, monitoring and reporting on these advances.
  • Have problem champions: International idea management programmes have triumphed by negotiating innovation challenges with particular business unit leaders. Take leaders’ challenges and name them innovation challenges – you will have your own champions.

#Don’t solve problems that you don’t have
#Make business challenges innovation challenges
#Be very specific in defining your battles, across countries and businesses

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

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Number 6 assures community awareness

FROM THE START:
Innovation programme across borders: 10 best practices to make it work

10 best practices for cross-border innovation: Analysing number 4

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Nike’s goal is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world’. Barnes & Noble bookstores’ mission statement is ‘to operate the best specialty retail business in America, regardless of the product we sell’. And Starbuck’s motto is ‘to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time’. What is the perfect umbrella for your initiative?

When launching your innovation effort, you have to find a way to communicate that the initiative is bigger than just a simple project with a set of processes and tools. Individuals need a meaningful purpose to motivate them to dedicate their free time to activities that are not part of their official job description.

You have thus to follow up and build up on your organisation’s mission. Define a meaningful purpose for your innovation effort and identify ‘the jobs-to-be-done’ through innovation.

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

#Define a purpose that is bigger than the business itself

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

READ MORE:
Number 5 gets you to pick the right fights

FROM THE START:
Innovation programme across borders: 10 best practices to make it work

10 best practices for cross-border innovation: Analysing number 3

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What sometimes is less obvious when launching your innovation programme across borders, is the need for a constituency inside your company to provide needed support throughout different phases of the process. Still, forget about employing a huge army of innovation musketeers. That’s not going to happen.

Since you’ve not been given an army of trained consultants to fight the innovation war, you need to find creative ways to build a constituency. Ongoing training programmes that ‘produce’ innovation practitioners is one way to go.

Over time, you’ll build up a constituency ready to support you in your efforts – especially if you have this contribution codified into each individual’s performance evaluation targets.

For instance, you’ll need internal backing for communication: to reach out to employees and stakeholders in far-flung parts of the company, to give a little boost when necessary to a particular idea or venture and so on.

Learn also how to spread your advocates strategically across branches, with different levels of innovation proficiency and sharing a commitment to this cause. They are the foundations of your governance model.

How can you actually take your initiative to this next level?

At Exago, we asked that question of ourselves when a client commissioned us to design a programme to build an internal army of innovation practitioners. Together, we defined a set of outcomes to increase the success of initiatives by improving content quality, accelerating throughput and de-risking opportunities. We named the programme ‘Innovation Sigma’ and based it on efficiency focused Six Sigma principles:

  • Definition of four different levels of innovation proficiency;
  • Curricula (tools and courseware) that qualify participants at each proficiency level;
  • No full-time allocation (tapping into pivotal resources inside the organisation);
  • Guidelines describing how individuals can progress from one proficiency level to the next.

Whatever the programme you adopt, what’s important is that you create a homogeneous system, throughout your organisation: with a portfolio of offline tools, methods and processes that allow trained individuals to push innovation further. Build your own army of innovation practitioners to enhance innovation proficiency and deliver differentiation continuously.

There is no substitute to minds working together in a room ideating, elaborating upon an idea, and accelerating a venture. You need to structure these events in a way to assure they achieve the desired outcomes.

This means designing the right set of tools, processes and facilitation for each session. Ideally, you should have a catalogue of offline programmes that you can easily draw from whenever you need to unstick an idea or a stalled opportunity.

Remember then to:
# Build your constituency, across countries
# Create offline processes to push innovation forward

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

CONTINUE READING:
Number 4 sets the beginning and the end

FROM THE START:
Innovation programme across borders: 10 best practices to make it work