It is impossible to become innovative overnight, especially if you are either a large organization or have a standing start. Successful innovation transformation takes time and needs to be carefully sequenced and choreographed differently to traditional change. Here are ten secrets to a successful innovation journey based upon first-hand experiences of doing it well, and sometimes not so well!
1. Nurture it slowly
Avoid the temptation to scale too early but instead focus on building a portfolio of early victories that will give you the permission and credibility for wider transformation.
2. Scout for superstars
Superstar innovation talent is sometimes hard to find – they are not always the same as ‘high potential’. So seek them out and invest in their development and future.
3. Share stories not plans
Tell (and retell) anecdotes as they are what people remember and how they learn. Avoid raising expectations with plans/promises – better to share successes once they’re achieved.
4. Look after your constituency
Innovation, particularly in the early days, is often a choice for people. So think of your audience as your constituency and design your engagement activities politically.
5. Inject thrill and adventure
Innovation requires extra energy, so make the ride enjoyable and seek to inject thrill and adventure where possible and appropriate. Do things people will tell their friends about.
6. Connect activity to value goals
Make sure that anything you do has a clear value proposition, with value being defined commercially, culturally and experimentally. Don’t just get busy for the sake of it.
7. Be prepared for failure
If everything you try succeeds, this probably means you’re not stretching the boundaries far enough and your innovation will end up being close to home. Expect only 50-75% to work.
8. Capture learning as you go
Put in place strict structures to capture learning about what works and doesn’t work as you go. Don’t wait and do it rarely or you could fail to reach the right ecosystem.
9. Get people behind the cause
Involve the organization, create a common enemy, give people creative experiences and get them rallying together towards an innovation vision that’s exciting. Make it noble.
10. Back it sufficiently
For innovation to truly take hold and become part of the way you do business, it requires sustained investment of time and money. Don’t be one off, be committed and win.