The cause of lower return in your innovation initiative is too often linked to implementation challenges. Some of it is beyond your control: Say you’ve run the front-end process and have successfully identified the ideas and opportunities that make the most sense to implement, but now you lack resources. As a result, the opportunity falls into an implementation void and you get the blame for the low return of your innovation management programme.
To tackle this, make sure you have a challenge owner ahead of the challenge launch (remember that identifying an owner for each challenge was part of assuring relevance, as described previously). The owner must be someone who feels urgency to solve the issue and who has the resources to implement the solution(s). This owner should have a personal stake in ensuring that an idea gets implemented.
Another way to avoid the implementation void is to negotiate an ‘Experimentation and Incubation Budget’ as suggested earlier when discussing lack of resources. A small venture development budget can go a long way toward saving good ideas that risk falling through the cracks. Having a budget to experiment and test some of the key assumptions and/or to implement the opportunity can help overturn this situation. It is far from being an ideal solution, but it is better than leaving good ideas on the table for lack of execution resources.
Insight: “Managers may not be the enemies of innovation, but they’re not the natural champions either. Their focus on improving profits through ever greater operating efficiency encourages them to reject new ideas that detract from these perpetual improvements.” (Demystifying Innovation, PWC, 2011)
Communicate, everything and always
We’ve already established the importance of sharing the quick-wins. It is just as important to communicate every single success throughout your initiative. Even if it’s a small success or a more intangible achievement, communicating your triumphs puts your efforts in a context of success.
Plus, as you know, everyone likes to be associated with successful projects. The more individuals see the success of projects to which they have contributed, the more likely they are to continue their active participation.
FROM THE START: Innovation looks easy – it’s not