Be Innovative if You Want to Drive Innovation

Drive InnovationAn operations manager at a Fortune 500 hundred company recently asked me: “what are your thoughts on the best innovation ‘models’ to serve as guides for how individuals or teams can structure some of their thinking?”

It’s a great question and organizations we work with frequently want to make sure they’ve got a best practice methodology in place before implementing an idea management solution. This makes sense since innovation methodologies are often the result of extensive research and testing and provide important guidelines for implementation and operations.

Yet, when it comes to choosing which specific strategy to pursue, things get challenging because the truth is there is no single “right answer” and we’ve seen many strategies that work.

At IdeaScale we help Kane is Able and many other clients achieve their continuous improvement strategies such as Lean, Kaizen or Six Sigma. We work with clients to materialize their Design Thinking processes like we did with our customers at SAP, achieve their Agile product development and research operations, and implement business viability assessments based on COSTAR or Business Model Canvas.

What we also have a chance to witness with our clients, is that all pedagogies have limits. Limits in applicability or scope. Each has a set of required conditions for successful execution, and even when these are met some simply run their course.

When it comes to driving innovation then, the first and most important objective is to design a program that can frequently re-evaluate and re-invent itself. “Methodology agnostic” you might say.

Becoming methodology agnostic will allow you to focus on the shared success factors across methodologies. Specifically, we see that any implemented strategy works best when there is an alignment of purpose (what problem are you trying to solve) with a commitment to implementation (resources for creating change) from top-to-bottom.

In other words, delivering innovation happens when companies get in “the zone”.

However, it’s important to recognize how much of a complex system this “zone” is for all organizations. It’s influenced by everything from adoption rates of technologies to things like terminology and shifting corporate goals. The reality is you’re always gonna be in some manner of orbit or oscillation of “the zone”. The key then, when planning and strategizing about innovation, it to create an approach that is adaptive, reflective and rapid.

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with three specific recommendations.

  1. First, start with conversations about the jobs to be done, ensuring you’re able to articulate what objectives any chosen methodology should help you achieve. Perhaps you’ll even recognize that the distinctions between parts of your organization merit simultaneous but distinct methodologies.  
  2. Second, a commitment to implementation is critical for any choice, so explore the paths of least resistance and identify potential champions who can drive participation. The key is to be nimble in how you introduce and build consensus around ideologies. We’re looking to generate results sooner rather than later.
  3. Third, remember you’re designing for agility which means you’re only making a commitment to explore and evaluate. IdeaScale makes it easy to implement a high-level methodology (e.g. “design thinking lite”) without hiring a team of consultants or investing in comprehensive trainings.

A plug-and-play approach like IdeaScale allows you to pursue  innovation innovatively, gaining value from a wide variety of methodologies as fast as possible.

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. 

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