Disrupt or be disrupted has been the slogan of the past few years as new startups repeatedly overturn and overtake established companies that have been around for years. This trend has given rise to “innovation management,” a term that risks being ignored simply for how wonky it sounds. After all, can “innovation” ever really be managed?
And stodgy as the term might be, I think it actually helps us to redefine some of our deeply held (and erroneous) beliefs. Innovation can be managed, precisely because it is not the slapdash or purely artistic process gifted to us by the few. It is actually a highly collaborative process that can be repeated and organized. But before you get started and either adopt or define a methodology of your own, you’ll need to design your innovation management program starting with these three steps.
Create a destination for ideas. Preferably this should be a digital tool like IdeaScale so that anyone, anywhere, at anytime can add to this environment so that you begin to develop a mine for inspiring and relevant ideas. However, we do think that having an innovation center or innovation department where new ideas are defined and tested can be very powerful, too. It becomes a place that employees can visit to become inspired.
Identify at least one problem to solve this year. IdeaScale has found that success happens most organically when a new idea aligns with a business need. If you’ve got a budget challenge to meet or a customer requirement that you’d like to ideate around, align your first innovation campaign to that need and deliver a result. That’s going to build faith in your program and goodwill in your workforce. So before you begin that not only do you need solutions, you need problems, too.
Define your process thresholds and automate where possible. Define your process with different validation measures or thresholds. If you’re not sure how to do this, check out our webinars on process and on how to evaluate ideas. Ideas should garner a certain number of comments, reviews, funds (or whatever you define at each stage) to move forward and then you can focus on building on those ideas and not moving them forward through an ideation funnel.
Of course, these are just a few tips to get you started. You’ll need to create teams and source new problems and implement ideas through to prototyping and testing and then start the process over. But if you find a place for ideas, pick a problem to solve, and process those ideas with the help of the crowd, you’ll be off to a good start.