An internal communications plan is essential for your innovation programme to succeed – it is the thread that weaves through the innovation process and joins every part together.
Strategic communication helps to build and sustain a culture in which your employees feel that they are part of something larger than themselves – where they have the power to influence the direction the company takes and recognise that they will be rewarded for it.
Innovation Communication Case Study - GAM Investments
Watch the video below to find out how GAM Investments is celebrating their top innovators and what communication techniques they are using to drive engagement with their innovation programme.
Internal communication objectives for your innovation programme
- Generate buzz and awareness about your innovation programme so your employees will be excited and eager to actively participate.
- Inform and educate using cross-industry best practices to unlock the full potential of Idea Drop software and achieve your business goals.
- Drive sustained engagement in order to crowdsource as many impactful ideas as possible and action the ones that will deliver tangible results for your business.
- Create loyalty over time to create an ongoing and sustainable innovation process that helps your organisation stay ahead of the game.
What you need to know when planning your innovation programme communication
People tend to resist change, even if it’s for the better. That’s why we recommend launching your comms campaign early on to start educating and driving awareness about the benefits of the programme for the business and your employees well ahead of the actual launch date.
We suggest launching your campaign around six weeks before launch to create anticipation and excitement about your innovation programme.
Think about your internal comms plan as a cross-channel promotional plan and don’t forget to include various channels (including intranet, email, print and in-person meetings) and mediums (copy, visuals, videos, animations, etc).
The most common innovation communication channels
Let’s explore the best ways to announce changes. All of the communication channels below have their own advantages and disadvantages, and can be used for different purposes.
Without a doubt, the most powerful way to communicate with somebody is in conversation. When you’re face-to-face, it’s easy to gauge a person’s reaction to your changes, understand their individual needs and adapt your story to fit them. Everyone has their own communication style and you’ll be able to assess and respond to each person best when you’re in the room with them. Of course, this isn’t always practical, but it’s a good idea to make space for one-to-one conversations with your highest priority stakeholders.
Presentations (with Q&A)
There comes a time when you need to communicate changes to your team in mass. Group presentations are the go-to method of doing this for most managers. However, there are significant disadvantages to this approach. Firstly, it’s much more difficult to cater to individual needs and concerns within a group than, for example, one-to-one communication. Your team is also much more likely to be hesitant about voicing their concerns or queries in public, meaning many of their worries will go unaddressed. A Q&A session can go a long way to helping alleviate concerns, but the lack of anonymity will always be an issue.
Although email messages can seem impersonal, they’re a great way of communicating a message to the wider team whilst also providing them with the chance to feedback anonymously. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to think carefully about the wording you use in your message. On the downside, however, you can’t always be sure that the whole team has read your message. A good way around this is by using an opening tracker such as Hunter to make sure your emails have been opened.
Websites and intranets
Online reference platforms such as microsites and intranets can be great ways to communicate if you have a lot of information to put across, especially when your team will need to refer back to new protocols or processes. You can pair websites and microsites with rich media such as videos, podcasts or even AR platforms for really clear communication. However, don’t forget that you can’t keep track of how people react to your changes – it might be best to use web-based channels as a follow up to one of the channels above.
Idea Management platforms
Idea Management Platforms offer something no other communication channels can – total transparency through the entire innovation funnel. Your team will be able to track the journey of an idea from conception through to implementation, watching it develop every step of the way. Key stakeholders will also be able to feedback in real time, allowing you to develop your project in accordance with your team’s needs.
Communication tools and techniques in idea management software
Bulletins are a great way of communicating and informing your people; educating them in how to use the software and delivering valuable information is crucial for its adoption. It’s important to provide instructions on how to think about, structure and post ideas that have impact. This ensures that any new or existing users unfamiliar with how to draft and drop punchy and attention-grabbing ideas, can dive straight in. Bulletins are also an excellent communication tool for providing updates, inspiration, best-practice advice and examples, as well as urgent information to the whole workforce or more-bespoke groups.
Recognition and reward programmes
You should also celebrate ideas and Challenge results, displaying impact and encouraging others to contribute. Asking diverse questions through bulletins, with a call-out for experts in a particularly strategic role, allows for further input from your talented people.
Idea statuses and feedback
Advancing the best ideas to adoption and providing consistent feedback to the best ideators is a very powerful communication technique to help drive engagement and ideation even further.
Think of your communications plan as a roadmap for ongoing communication with your colleagues, keeping them informed about what’s happening and why as well as their role in the process and the actions they need to take to help you achieve your innovation goals.