Include the organization’s larger community and ensure that institutional leaders are engaged and supportive of the proposed innovative strategies.
One of the first things you need to do to improve the odds of innovation success is ensure support and engagement from key organizational leaders. Innovation is hard to do in a vacuum. Often it takes a team, some of whom are directly involved and others who provide resources and political cover. As you embark on your innovation, take inventory of key decision makers, influencers and culture. Identify both the individuals who will help you and those who might hurt you. The more organizational community and leadership engagement you develop, the higher the likelihood of overcoming the obstacles that will be on your path to innovation.
Use People with IT
Do not create an over-reliance on people or on technology; use both resources in concert.
Often we rely too heavily on technology as we embark on innovation.
Sometimes innovation starts at the other extreme with people but little
incorporation of automation or tools. The best innovations tend to be the
result of a strong balance at the intersection of people and technology.
Always take an inventory of people and technology to ensure balance. It
is the ability to take the best of people and technology, then melding them
together, that ignites innovation.
Develop a plan for the functions required to innovate and encourage effective communication between functional experts for strategic clarity.
There is an unsubstantiated fear that plans and order run counter to the innovation spirit. Effective roadmaps actually serve as beacons or markers that help innovators navigate their way without being distracted and thrown off course. Plans do not stifle innovation but rather provide necessary guardrails to ensure focus and completion. Too many great ideas were Never realized as resources and passion dwindled from an unnecessarily long journey.
Collaborate and Listen
Listen for ideas that will potentially solve a problem or present an
opportunity to collaborate with stakeholders and galvanize your network
Many innovations started by listening, observing and then communicating ideas and solutions to problems. When you listen, people are more likely to share ideas and provide encouragement. The more you engage others, the more ideas you are likely to catch. Great innovations are typically a result of multiple iterations by numerous individuals invited to participate in ideation and execution. Inviting others to share in your innovation will galvanize support and engagement necessary for success. One is too small a number for innovation. Innovation is largely a result of a team of teams’ approach to solving a problem or exploiting an opportunity. It can be an ego challenge to have a great innovation and allow others to modify and edit your dream. We can take innovation too personally and become captive to the potential and miss out on something greater. Leveraging others actually frees the innovation to grow and expand beyond what you initially envisioned. There is strength in seeking the wisdom of others.
Collaborate and Listen
Communicate and Eliminate Barriers
Transparency is key to effective relationships, which are required for innovation to thrive. The depth and width you share will determine the size of your success. Look for every opportunity and platform to share while actively eliminating barriers to communication. Effective communication will make or break innovation. If active or passive resistance rises, so must your communication. While technology provides great tools to reach many, do not neglect the power of in-person eyeball-to-eyeball dialogue.
Do not overcomplicate a solution to a problem; keep the following principle in mind: “When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one” is better to implement.
It seems counterintuitive, but the majority of innovations are rather simple. The temptation to take a problem and create a complex solution exists in most of us. We tend to overthink an opportunity and therefore overengineer a fix. Innovation is often as basic as developing an elegant yet simple solution to a complex issue or opportunity, not the opposite way around. If the innovation can’t be easily explained, start again.
Recognize and Reward
Recognize or reward the efforts of stakeholders to innovate even at the smallest levels.
To maximize innovation potential, we must not forget the power of motivation
in human behavior. People will largely do what they are primarily
rewarded and recognized for. For innovation to thrive, consider launching
multiple reward and recognition programs to reinforce culture, enhance
engagement and encourage collaboration. Programs should reward not only
those who generate ideas but also all the support teams enabling the success.
That which is rewarded and recognized is repeated. Innovation will
multiply commensurate with affirmation given.
Appreciate the complexity of attention that innovation requires, and expose the organization to demands from all stakeholders.
Innovation does not happen by innovators alone. We must be careful not to fall into a belief that innovation is reserved for one person or a special team whose primary function is to develop solutions to problems or invention to opportunities. Innovation is primarily cultural and thrives in team-based organizations. Avoid the trap that innovation is for a select few and all others are discounted. Innovation happens best when it becomes the culture of the entire organization and everyone has the opportunity to engage.