1. Diagnose the current situation
First you need to assess how good you are at innovation and find out what is impeding it in your organization. Could it be a lack of vision or a complacent culture, or perhaps a difficult approval processes for new ideas? Try our interactive survey on the Test Yourself page. Or for a fuller understanding of the issues you can carry out an Innovation Audit. The audit will clearly identify the things that are holding you back and the problem areas to be addressed.
2. Set Goals
Set suitable goals, objectives and measures so that you can calibrate progress. The sorts of goals you choose will depend on your circumstances. They should be quantifiable and have timescales. Examples might be:
- 5 major new products launched within the next year
- 20 prototypes tested with customers
- $10m in revenue from new products within the next two years
- 2 new routes to market
- 3 new strategic partnerships
- new logistics methods implemented to reduce inventories by 30%
- new processes implemented to reduce customer wait times by 25%
3. Design and Train
Design an innovation programme to involve staff at all levels. It will address the issues raised in the Innovation Audit and it will set in place the activities to achieve the gols. Train leaders and innovation champions throughout the company in the tools and techniques needed to make innovation a natural part of the organisation’s actitivies. The courses are tailored to your requirements and can be based on the Creative Leadership Workshop.
4. Run Innovation Programmes
Implement innovation programmes designed to achieve the goals. These might typically include:
- Building a company intranet site to support all innovation activities
- Running ideas campaigns for individuals and teams
- Identifying internal and external sources of ideas
- Establishing idea evaluation and implementation systems
5. Evaluate and Implement
As the ideas flow in from the Innovation Programmes they need to be promptly evaluated against clear criteria. An innovation funnel is established. The most promising ideas enter the funnel and receive detailed analysis and support. Some then go through to be prototyped. Soon innovative products, methods, processes and partnerships are moving from trials to full implementation.
6. Measure, Communicate, Adapt
Progress against the goals is measured. Successes are trumpeted. Everyone is kept in the picture regarding developments. The programme is adapted and enhanced to make it even more effective and to keep it fresh in people’s minds.
This is a simplified plan for improving innovation in your business. If you put something similar into action you will see your organisation become more entrepreneurial, proactive, innovative and successful.
Paul Sloane helps organisations improve innovation. He is the author of The Innovative Leader.