When you have a new idea to present or a new innovation you’d like to implement in your organization, getting others to rally around it can be tricky. You may find that others have vital suggestions that can make your ideas even better. If you don’t get their input, your idea might fail before you’ve finished your pitch. Fortunately, these four key innovation stages will help you get your ideas off the ground. When you follow these stages, you can create a plan that improves the likelihood of seeing your idea brought to life.
Stage 1: Ideate
The first stage of successful innovation is to refine your idea and ensure its acceptance. To do this, you can have various people within your organization submit ideas and vote on the best ones. It’s essential at this stage that you set your pride aside and accept input that may significantly change your initial vision. The purpose of this stage is to get the best ideas accepted and create momentum to get them implemented!
As an example, the Western Australia Police Force established a Continuous Improvement Team (CIT) to help them source and select ideas from over 8,000 officers and public servants. The team produced a scale that allowed them to objectively evaluate ideas and promote the best ones to the next stage. They even provided small incentives – like the chance to win movie tickets – to those who submitted ideas into the system. They also made sure each idea received a response from an Improvement Team member. This increased participation, comments, and voting from the whole workforce.
Stage 2: Build a Team to Refine the Idea
Once innovation ideas begin to flow into your system, you’ll want to make sure a process is in place to refine and evaluate them. This is best done with a team. The more diverse and representative the team, the better. You can divide the team into groups, with select members serving as experts in certain systems. In this way, innovations relating to a specific part of your organization can be evaluated by those most likely to understand the impact.
The Western Australia Police did exactly that. Not only did they have the Continuous Improvement Team to publicize the idea system and give rewards, they also had teams for each stage of idea evaluation. A small team handles a promising innovation right away, and subject matter experts are available to determine costs and value. Then it’s either implemented or put on hold.
Stage 3: Refine Idea to Robust Proposal
Once the teams are in place, the process can begin. Innovative ideas come in, are evaluated by teams, and put into functional form. It’s helpful to publicize the process, because it helps your organization understand that their ideas are being heard and discussed. That alone can dramatically increase participation.
For the Western Australia Police, their subject matter experts were a major part of the refining process. Innovations that were sent to them might not be practical in their current form, but could often be adapted or adjusted. By performing a cost and benefit analysis, the experts were able to decide how best to implement an idea, put it aside, or put it on hold.
Stage 4: Assess and Implement
Having a lot of amazing innovations ready to implement is great, but it can also be a bit of a problem if your organization’s budget doesn’t allow all of them to be done immediately. This is where Stage 4 comes in. You can assess the best innovation ideas and decide which ones to prioritize and fund first. You may also be able to share unfunded needs with your community and see if you can raise additional money to implement the best of your organization’s ideas.
The two biggest pieces of this stage are to engage the idea creator (the person who submitted the idea) and publicize the wins. The Western Australia Police found that when the idea creator is engaged in the implementation, it reinforces the integrity of the process and speeds adoption across the agency. In addition, publicizing the many wins the system has created drives additional confidence in the improvement process and encourages more front-line members to suggest innovative ideas.
The Western Australia Police have experienced tremendous gains in productivity, cost-savings, and efficiency since they implemented their innovation process. For more information on how they implemented each of these four stages, and the benefits they saw as an organization, view the full study.