Innovation Strategy

How to Deal with Innovation Derailers

 

If you have experienced great ideas die in the making and want to avoid this in the future, read on. Robyn Bolton offers a few expert tips on how to combat the problem of the ‘derailers’ in your midst.

Innovating – doing something different that creates value – is hard.

Innovating within a large organization can feel impossible.

In my work with corporate innovators, we always start with great optimism that this time will be different, this time innovation will stick and become the engine that drives lasting growth.

Within weeks, sometimes days, however, we start to be “loved to death,” a practice that takes one of two forms:

The Protector who says, “That’s not how we do things and, if you insist on doing things that way, you’ll get shut down.  Instead, do things this way”

The Enthusiast who exclaims, “This is amazing!  I would love to be involved.  And you should share what you’re doing with this person, and definitely tap into this other person’s experience, and I know this third person will want to be involved, and you definitely must talk to….”

Neither mean harm.  In fact, they’re trying to help, but if intrapreneurs aren’t careful, The Protector will edit their work into something that is neither different nor value creating, and The Enthusiast will suffocate them with meetings.

4 More Innovation Derailers

Being “loved to death,” is just one of ways I’ve seen corporate innovation efforts get derailed.  Here are the others:

Performances for senior executives.  Yes, it’s important to meet regularly with senior leaders to keep them apprised of progress, learnings, results, and next steps. But there’s a fine line between updating executives because they’re investors and conference room performances to show off shiny objects and excite executives.  It takes time for innovation teams to prepare for meetings (one team I worked with spent over 100 hours preparing for a meeting) which is time they aren’t spending working, learning, and making progress.

 

Key points include:

  • Evolve what you measure when
  • Use transparency to build support and let experience drive progress
  • Base incentives on the core business and innovation objectives.

 

Read the full article, 5 Innovation Derailers (And What To Do Instead), on Milezero.io.

 

Innovation Growth without Breaking Nails

 

In this article, Robyn M. Bolton provides a few practical steps that can be taken to help build and improve innovation in the workplace. 

According to a 2018 survey by NPR and The Marist Poll, the most common New Year’s resolution is to exercise more.  Not surprisingly, losing weight and eating a more healthy diet ranked third and further, respectively (“stop smoking” was #2, in case you’re curious).

Hitting the gym to drop weight and build muscle is a great habit to build, but don’t forget about the regular work needed to build other muscles.

Specifically, your innovation muscles.

Innovation mindsets, skills, and behaviors can be learned but if you don’t continuously use them, like muscles, they can weaken and atrophy.  That’s why it’s important to create opportunities to flex them.

One of the tools I use with clients who are committed to building innovation as a capability, rather than scheduling it as an event, is QMWD – the Quarterly-Monthly-Weekly-Daily practices required to build and sustain innovation as a habit.

 QUARTERLY

Leave the office and talk to at least 3 of your customers

It’s tempting to rely on survey results, research reports, and listening in on customer service calls as a means to understand what your customers truly think and feel.  But there’s incredible (and unintended) bias in those results.

Take, for example, this story from former P&G CEO AG Lafley.

 

Key insights include:

  • Why consumers can’t tell you what they want
  • Sharing mistakes with your team 
  • Making small, but conscious, changes

 

Read the full article, 5 ways to Build Your Innovation Muscles in the New Year, on MileZero.io.

 

Include an Ecosystem in Your Innovation Strategy

 

Sean McCoy shares a blog post from his company website that presents a case for and against spending resources on ‘innovation’. 

Innovation is hard. Most companies do not do it well. Long is the list of established market leaders that were The Disruptee instead of The Disrupter. But firms are not to blame. Most innovations fail period, regardless of who is doing the innovation. Innovation is a high-failure sport.

Nevertheless, conventional wisdom holds that large businesses should be more innovative. It’s even a famous imperative: Innovate or Die. But why should a firm that is organized around low-failure productivity embrace high-failure innovation? Why should a large company make innovation when it can buy innovation? 

The argument against ‘Make it’

There are many reasons why a large firm making its own innovation might not make sense. Finance departments balk at the lost capital that could have been allocated to a known winner. HR departments can be reluctant to promote high-failure entrepreneurs, knowing how poorly that will be received by those that receive the opposite treatment for a string of failures. Audit, Compliance, Legal, and Quality Assurance departments usually do not take kindly to bug-y minimum viable products, nor to operators who move fast and break stuff.

Innovation at a big firm is equally difficult from the perspective of the innovator. The large number of stakeholders slows down decision-making. Once decisions are made, the work itself takes longer than entrepreneurs would like, because a company’s processes involve many hands, and innovators want speed.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Making innovation
  • Buying innovation
  • Leveraging an ecosystem

 

Read the full post, Should your innovation strategy leverage an ecosystem?, on the McCoy Consulting Group website.