Mantras aren’t enough. This journey takes real commitment.

These days, you rarely find an organisation where innovation is not part of leadership’s mantra. Yet the time and resources dedicated to it are far less than other disciplines, like quality and customer service. The challenge is that innovation is (will always be) a leap into the unknown that rarely brings immediate measurable results.

So, not only do you need to engage your people, but you also have to get leadership fully engaged by addressing their own business concerns and challenges, by educating them on the topic of innovation. And by showing them how innovation will deliver results to your business challenges.

Make sure they are aware of both the tangible and intangible outcomes, that expectations are clearly negotiated ahead. No one-year innovation plan should be put forward, as it is too easy to be shut down by short-term results oriented executives.

Innovation demands resilience, and both top-down and bottom-up support.

Read more:
Remember to harness these resources

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

Are you ready for your innovation journey?

Innovation is the way, the only to way, to stay ahead in the race. It’s the ongoing attitude that makes it possible. A source of opportunities, to create differentiated business models, products and cost structure that can ensure resilience and growth, at a global scale. Are you ready to embark on this quest? Are you filled with energy to make it happen?

First and foremost, to go anywhere, you´ll need your people:

  • You must mobilise them and keep them involved around your business challenges. Unleash their hidden potential and harness their extraordinary collective intelligence: with ongoing communication; rewards and recognitions – people are moved by incentives;
  • Create a culture that is inclusive, where all have a voice and are heard;
  • Develop efficient social tools that promote ideation and collaboration, as well as game mechanisms, to make participation fun, engaging and continuous.

Remember this: to give the extra edge is an extra responsibility on top of someone’s day job. If you want to get your people’s attention and encourage them to participate, you must also be a good leader.

What then?

Read more:
2. Mantras aren’t enough. This journey takes real commitment.
3. Remember to harness these resources
4. Your innovation journey, why is it relevant anyway?
5. No returns, no play
6. Is it clear enough?
7. Finally, your 7th must-have

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


‘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

Number 8 has to be properly geared

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

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

Photo: Ryan

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

Number 7 ignites motivation

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

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

Number 6 assures community awareness

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