We have seen that when the innovation outcome seems irrelevant, so too seems the entire idea management initiative. Then how can we keep innovation efforts alive and prosperous? Be focused, smart, and remember:
1. Don’t solve problems that you don’t have
Choose where you’ll battle. Make sure you pick the right fights and avoid engaging in what top management and business unit leaders may throw at you to keep you distracted and away from their territory.
2. Make business challenges idea management challenges
Successful innovation managers succeed by negotiating innovation challenges with business unit leaders. They engage these leaders with relevant, tough, and short to medium term business challenges under the scope of innovation.
This approach achieves two extremely important goals: they identify a challenge that is relevant for the business and establish an owner, i.e., someone that really cares about the outcome. This is making innovation important to someone in the organisation who can champion the challenge.
3. Be very specific in defining your innovation battles
When defining innovation challenges make sure you define a clear and specific sandbox for people to play in. This might sound quite unintuitive. But the fact is that the narrower the scope of the challenge, the more imaginative the employee.
As an exercise, imagine a scenario where you allow people two minutes to generate ideas for each of these separate challenges: ‘Ideas to save water in homes’ and ‘Ideas to save resources.’ From which one would you get more ideas? Well, most likely from the one with the narrower challenge.
4. Celebrate implementation over ideas
You should have a mechanism that rewards participation and engagement. This means rewarding idea generation but let’s not forget that innovation only truly happens when you translate an idea into reality and create economic value. Make sure you celebrate implementation and identify the relevance and impact upon your business.
FROM THE START: Innovation looks easy – it’s not