3 Proven Ways to Make Innovation Repeatable

Filed Under Innovation

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Arwen Heredia

November 8, 2013

With data pouring in from around the world confirming the strategic business value of innovation management, it’s hard not get caught up in the rush to implement a new process, and implement it now. But a haphazardly stitched-together approach is a surefire way to set yourself up to repeat tasks, not establish repeatable innovation.

Here are 3 ways to add structure to the process — the right way.

1. Go Forth and Gamify

Gamification is quickly proving to be one of the most effective tactics when it comes to generating great ideas. And of course, more great ideas = more opportunities to innovate. By creating a community that contributes and connects through challenges, you’ll be able to boost engagement while driving collaborative problem-solving around specific business needs. Remember to add structure wherever possible, with things like deadlines and pairwise voting.

Don’t forget the benefits this gives you for tracking data, either. A study conducted by Findlay and Alberts found that pre-gamification, just under 70% of the community members observed were active contributors. Post-gamification, that number rose to 83%, and the average number of posts per user went from 1.5 to 2.3. Historical data has a lot to do with a company’s ability to effectively execute future initiatives, and identifying emerging patterns means being able to conduct repeatable processes.

2. Involve the Executive Suite

Seems obvious enough, right? After all, it’s the CEOs of the world who are so vocal about driving innovation throughout every corner of their respective organizations. But these are very busy people we’re talking about, and all too often the extraordinary number of obligations they face can get in the way of their direct participation with innovation efforts. As important as it is that they act as liaisons to the listening market, or trust their managers to spearhead projects, repeatability is not possible without their involvement.

That doesn’t mean they should be micro-managing every challenge, but it does mean they need to understand the process on a very basic and intimate level to avoid serious disconnects between what they want and what they’re asking for. For some context, in a recent survey from PwC, executives were asked what factors make innovation successful, and answered as expected — culture, people, ability to take risks. But, talent and funding didn’t make the cut. On the very next question, where they were asked what was standing in the way of innovation, they responded “restricted financial resources, culture, and a lack of talent.” Curious, no? The lesson here is that clarity is king, consistency is queen, and communication is just really, really important.

3. Trust the Experts

A wise man once tweeted that you don’t fill your own cavities, so why would you bet your company and try to innovate without experts? It’s a valid point, and it doesn’t just apply to getting the right tools in place or hiring the best consultants. You have to trust your internal folks to live up to their titles, too.

Says Mindjet’s CMO, Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, “Projects should be managed by the best person for the job, not necessarily the project management specialist. Lean, agile teams coordinate the everyday projects — with traditional professional project managers taking on the more complex duties. Select your project manager based on their expertise in the idea not their expertise in project management.” Hear, hear.