Three building blocks of an Innovation Operation

"We’ve just been given a mandate to implement an innovation program but we don’t know where to begin.”

Sound familiar?

Starting on a path toward major culture change is a daunting and rocky task. Below are three elements of successful innovation programs from companies around the world. This approach will help ensure your effort is on stable ground when it comes time to fulfill that innovation mandate.

  1. Mentored Challenges: Many organizations want an online platform that will allow creativity and ideas to flow, but without some assistance they’ll experience “business as usual” without real momentum or progress toward change. A Challenge approach – in which a business problem is defined at the outset and people collaborate on that core theme – helps reduce unwanted or irrelevant ideas and insights and keeps the work focused. For example, Cotton Incorporated wanted to improve its diminishing product pipeline. By engaging in online Challenges teams that don’t usually collaborate began working together.
  2. A process for Discovery/Breakthrough: Mentored Challenges are one piece of the innovation process. New insights and breakthrough ideas will take an organization further along the goal of competitive advantage. A consumer products company reaped huge benefits by joining 30 people virtually and in a live facilitated discovery session. People were allowed to experiment with radical ideas and make new connections by working collectivity and independently. As a result the organization found 72 new opportunities streaming from four different insights.
  3. Innovation Maturity Model: A deep understanding of an organization’s innovation maturity will help set the right course for future work. First understanding what your strategy, leadership and culture looks like (and will look like) helps you design an innovation system that will be easier to roll out and implement. Ladbrokes, for example, used an innovation maturity model to help define what innovation means to the organization. This ultimately aligned with goals of improved customer service, and Ladbrokes was able to launch Challenges around this theme that turned into a new, effective customer experience within its stores.

With these elements in place you’re ready to get to the actual work of fostering collaboration among your employees, customers, partners and stakeholders.

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