Innovation can be hard work. However, if your innovation strategy results in lots of hard work for little reward, then it’s time to step back and consider whether you need to give your team a leg up on the process. Here are a few ways you can help get your innovation strategy back in the running.
Have A Full Process
Everyone loves brainstorming and coming up with ideas. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s relatively easy, and it can be thought-provoking. Once the storm dies down, what happens next? Who’s in charge of ensuring these ideas get appropriate follow-through? Who will come back to the team with concerns to be addressed? Where, in short, does the buck stop, and does it stop with someone who has time to handle it? A full process can get innovation moving.
What’s The Problem?
Have you ever stumbled over a feature of something you use every day and find yourself wondering “Who could possibly need this?” You’ve probably just uncovered that most dreaded of innovation pitfalls, the solution in search of a problem. This comes when the problem isn’t clearly defined, or when the team gets so wrapped up in its ideas that the momentum carries it through to fruition without anybody figuring out who will buy it. Define your problems and let that momentum solve them instead.
Everyone knows the saw about building a better mousetrap. Stop and consider what it takes to make a current mousetrap. Do you have the tools to bend the wire, cut the wood, set the spring, or assemble even a prototype, let alone a scalable product to launch for customers? If not, your first step should probably not be designing mousetrap plans, but going to the hardware store. Similarly, people can’t innovate if they don’t have space to work on products. True, the risk is that it’ll blow up, metaphorically or literally, in your face, but what’s the risk of never innovating for your company?
It has to be said. Brilliant, well-executed ideas fall short every day, and there is nothing most of us fear more than failure. For team members, it’s even worse. Can you imagine working incredibly hard, pitching the boss, winning him over, and then watching your idea gather dust on the shelves? Getting organizations to overcome the fear of failure is a topic that’s filled libraries, but at its most basic, people need to know they can stumble and not be punished. Accepting failure encourages people to try again, and it lets your team know that you have faith in them.
Similarly, there’s no better way to bolster the process than to be involved with it. True, not every leader can spend all day with an innovation committee. However, checking in, listening to their concerns, and talking up their work within your organization can do wonders. If you pay attention and care about innovation, your entire team will join you.
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