Photo by Marc Rafanell López
While one person might be tasked with managing and reporting on innovation projects, they shouldn’t have to think them up all on their own. Really, it’s better for everyone if they don’t. Let’s think about what innovation means and respectively what innovation projects mean for your organization.
Innovation is defined as change, change that propels a company forward. Synonyms for the word include transformation, upheaval, revolution. When you look at innovation for what it is, it becomes a big responsibility. Why would you want to trust or task a sole person with selecting how your organization innovates itself?
Rather than ask one person to ideate, essentially in a vacuum, gather together a diverse team of members from your organization, invite experts, and if you’re bold enough to embrace open innovation, bring in some of your customers to group think about ways to innovate. This team of people should be from different parts of your organization, or from outside the organization. They should have different experiences and backgrounds. Grouping together people with such differences with enable you gather different perspectives, styles of thinking, experiences and frames of reference. This will make the ideas that generated more diverse and more creative, providing you with a better chance at identifying a successful innovation project.
While it’s better not to go the whole project alone, you can work ahead to plan and lay the groundwork for the project - to help ensure its success, to cut down on some of the time that the project will take, etc. Here are some tips from the pros at Idea Hunt.
Gather the tools to facilitate collaboration, tracking ideas, the number of supporters an idea has garnered and more. These can be as simple as a whiteboard and colored markers, or as robust as a custom built innovation platform like Idea Hunt. It will make the collaboration more organized, avoid the risk of losing valuable ideas and feedback and more.
Develop an area of focus. If these projects are successful (and with this prep work they should be) you can repeat the process throughout the year(s). Pick an area of the business on which to focus for each project. That will keep the discussion more organized and the thinking more critically focused, which will produce better results. These can be a current challenge or pain point, or a new opportunity.
Select a moderator or moderators to facilitate the discussion. These moderators will explain the focus of the project, the tools available and how they will be utilized, as well as lead or moderate discussion. Their role is to keep discussion on task and positive as well. They should be knowledgeable about the area of focus as to be able to answer questions.
Explain the project, the process, and the reason behind it. When participants fully understand not just the objective, but the entire project and it’s purpose, they’ll participate more fully and their ideas will be more on topic.