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The Foundations of Innovation 2 – The Next Steps

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Yesterday, we talked about the steps you need to look at before trying to take new innovative measures on board. This week, we look a little further forward. Now that you’ve worked out what innovation means to you individually, how do you make sure that you’re doing what you need to do to succeed?

  • Involve Everyone in the Project

In a true innovative company, everyone is an active contributor to success. Each employee goes to work motivated to contribute something new, and everyone goes home satisfied after applying themselves to their work and feeling that they themselves can be the one to drive change.

Now, why does it matter that everyone actively participates? For a start, everyone, including those outside the organization, is free to discuss their ideas no matter how unconventional these ideas are. Everyone is also free to contribute and critique strong or weak ideas. What happens here is that lesser ideas are left behind in order to give strong ideas a chance. It becomes a natural process, and contributors feel less hard done by when an idea doesn’t get through, as it’s been voted and discussed by everyone, not just a faceless corporate head.

It’s easy to talk about being innovative, but those that make the real changes have to be brave. Hire or acquire teams that get things done. Consider skilled individuals who don’t seem to fit in your existing company culture. Set up research centers to encourage a cross-pollination of ideas. The list goes on. But then again, the goal is simple: make sure everyone brings a positive contribution. Start-ups and tech companies are doing it, your organization can definitely do it too.

  • Measure What Matters and Ignore the Rest

There are important metrics to be used in tracking a company’s ROI. You probably know about them already. But do you know that there are also metrics used in fine-tuning an open innovation strategy? If you’re not comfortable with the term metrics, just think of it this way. There’s always a need to measure what matters in any business process.

In terms of building a culture of open innovation, organizations need to measure “progress” initially in terms of participation, training, research and engagement. How many active projects are there? How many new ideas have been generated over time? What percentage of the budget is spent on research and exploration of emerging trends? How many innovation-related recognition and awards did the company earn?

As your innovation-related programs mature, you can eventually focus your attention on core business metrics such as ROI, number of new products launched and the likes.

  • Embrace and Learn from Failure

This is the hardest advice to accept. Many executives, in fact, look down on failure and treat it as a sign of weakness. But failure is actually just a necessary part of every venture, commercial or not. Though it’s a fine line, as shown in our previous post Failure Won’t Always Lead To Success. The point to make is that failure isn’t the end of the world, but it won’t do you any good either unless you learn from it. Why did it fail? How can this be improved on? Everyone has to go through failure at some point, but the best bounce back from it, and a stronger as a result.

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