9 Ways to crank start innovation

Have you realised that you are not innovating in your organisation? Or only by tiny incremental changes to existing products? How are you going to stay ahead (or get ahead)? New products? New services? New markets? New processes for manufacture? For distribution? For getting new ideas?

Here are 9 ways to get started.

1    WALK

You have heard of Management By Walking Around, so Innovate b.w.a! Walk around your office, your premises, even your suppliers and your customers. What are the issues? Where is the pain? Where are the opportunities? Ask them.

 2   FIND

Find Your Innovation Champions

When you are walking around look out for the keenest, brightest, ideas-full supporters of innovation for your company. They may not be the loudest so listen carefully.

3    SCAN

Review issues and trends (do this at least once a year)

Get your champions together (or everyone if your organisation is small enough).

Before diving into the issues raised, review the trends in your markets and broadly in other markets. How could they be relevant to you?

Review old products and old shelved ideas. Has the market or the external environment changed to make them viable?

Review the issues already raised. Which are problems and which opportunities? Rank them (benefits, time to market, resources etc.)

Decide which issues to pursue – and when – and who leads them.

4    DO

Address the next issue

Run an ideation session about the selected issue. Choose a cross-departmental team of 6-10 people.

You need a facilitator to get the best out of the people in the time available (typically 2 hours). The issue leader can be the facilitator or you can use an independent person.

Make sure you understand the right problem and its dimensions before launching into idea generation. Use a technique like PILOT™ to keep you on track.

5    TALK

Management review of ideation outcomes

The level and breadth of review personnel must be enough to have the experience to properly evaluate the ideas but must also be open-minded enough to support new and even radical concepts.

The overall innovation culture and review process should be clearly understood by everyone in the organisation. This can be enabled by using a structure like CO-PILOT™.

6    FAST

Make the idea work

Or fail fast! Not all great ideas will succeed but it is clearly better to learn that as quickly as possible. So commit initial resources, set milestones and review progress just like for any other project.

7    TRAIN

Widen the ideation teams

Train your staff to run ideation activities as the norm. Train them in techniques like PILOT™. Train them to always think cross-departmental and collaboratively. Even to investigate open-innovation with outside organisations.

8    CHECK

Set up Control Panel™ or something like it.

This is a small group of champions (possibly from different levels) from across the organisation and includes the CEO.  The CP meets at least annually to review innovation, to look at the progress of the PILOT™ outcomes, to look at the successes and the barriers and failures and to make changes.

9   TELL

Publicise successes and failures

Be positive about successes and failures and praise both team and individual efforts. Explain why. Show links to the company’s progress. Encourage more.