This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.
This post is by Devin Mcintire, Innovation Technology Adviser at IdeaScale.
This post is part two of a two-part series. Here is part one.
What are your current innovation-related objectives and how well prepared are you to achieve them?
For the past few months I’ve been diving deep into the field of innovation management, attempting to identify the keys to a successful open innovation program. What I’ve learned is that “Innovation Management” is neither rocket science nor voodoo there are simply a handful of key factors for success along with some hard work and diligence.
- Innovation management is a practice, your success is determined by fitness
- Crowdsourced innovation management is an inherently social process
- Be deliberate about determining and communicating objectives
Fitness for success:
Launching an innovation management program implies that you believe your chosen audience already has valuable ideas but that you’re not necessarily nurturing or collecting them as well as you’d like to be. While the goal of your IM program may be disruptive innovation, the moment you start getting more good ideas than you had before, someone is going to be happy.
Starting small and specific gives you three key benefits:
- One is to make sure you don’t end up buying a surfboard, a surf rack and lots of other gear before you even learn how to swim.
- The second and biggest benefit, is the opportunity to refine your objectives and improve each step of the process by which you collect, evaluate and prepare ideas for implementation.
- Finally, as you continue you begin to acquire the fitness it takes to run an innovation management program, you will also start to understand the direct relationship between your team’s efforts and the program’s output which is critical for optimizing and scaling the scope of your program.
IM is inherently a highly social endeavor:
There are many ways in which this is true and recognizing this reality from the get-go is key.
First, IM requires a number of different roles that will need to be managed for a successful program. Employees at various levels of capacity will need to be pro-active and responsive in a process that doesn’t always fit into existing routines. The manager of an IM program needs to make sure these employees have clear tasks, well-aligned incentives and appropriate support.
Personal leadership is critical to creating social proof, inspiration and creating accountability for the IM program itself. Employees aren’t going to set aside time for participating in something their boss doesn’t think is worthwhile.
Ideas themselves are personal. This means that effort must be made to make your target audience feel comfortable, purposeful and appreciated. Some aspects of this are less challenging, like making sure employees or customers can log in easily to share their idea when inspiration strikes. Others, like reaching your audience with the right medium and message or designing the right prompts and incentives can be a lot more difficult.
Your audience exists in a connected world where perspectives are shared rapidly. If they come to believe that their ideas have no pathway for implementation or that the IM program isn’t serious or successful, this will spread quickly and devastatingly. However, the same viral phenomenon is true for positive impressions. Meaningful success stories will spread quickly and can help quickly develop social capital which can be used to scale your subsequent efforts.
You can’t succeed if you don’t know what success looks like:
Determining how you will measure the success of your innovation programs is the number one factor in whether it will succeed. Any type of new program planning will require a strategic vision that deals less with the tactical and more with ROI.
Objectives should drive planning but with appropriate scale so that your impact can be more precisely defined. Innovation management programs (when done well) produce many (tangible and intangible) benefits, across many departments from operational improvements to growth ideas. Rather than trying to reduce or stuff them all into a cost-savings bucket, use this multitude of potential benefits to your advantage in the planning process by specifying multiple unique impact objectives and let your ROI be a powerful collection of these impacts.