So you’ve been appointed as an innovation champion. You’ve been tasked to help form your organization’s innovation strategy, or maybe just help carry it out, or both. Where do you start?
The trouble is that innovation doesn’t come in a standard package. It’s a unique process that must be tailored to your company’s goals in order to be successful.
Simply gaining the title of innovation champion is not enough to ensure innovative progress. You must be armed with tools in order to make a difference. Without tools, a leader is like a cannon with no gunpowder.
For maximum effect, an innovation champion must:
1. Have a strategy. As a champion, you are going to need a clear-cut outline that details exactly what you are setting out to do. It should include what you want to achieve and your plan on how to get there. You wouldn’t go on a road trip without a map – your innovation journey is no different.
2. Align that strategy. Almost as important as actually having a strategy is aligning it with company goals. You don’t want your company’s executives and employees to resist your innovation efforts because they don’t believe in their value. Your strategy for innovation has to complement your organization’s mission, and should take into account how the organization currently operates.
3. Establish Metrics. It’s OK for projects to fail, but learning must accompany failure. In order to hone in on the ideas that are going to be a success, you have to learn from your mistakes.
4. Create a supportive environment. When someone needs feedback about an idea or just has questions, provide them a support system. It’s difficult for people to put themselves out there if they aren’t 100% sure that they will be received with open arms. By fostering an environment where people feel comfortable, the number of potential ideas will grow significantly.
5. Tailor the model to your company. Innovation happens in different ways across all industries, in companies big and small, in countries all around the world. If the strategy isn’t working, it’s OK to improve that, too.
If you are an innovation champion, remember these points to be a catalyst for change. Innovation is a group effort, but every group needs a leader.
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