The most important role a leader can play in the innovation journey is the visibility of their support because it inspires others to invest and engage in the innovation programme. So strengthening a senior executive’s role in the innovation process will result in a highly engaged workforce and a strong and structured innovation process that delivers the desired outcomes.
Senior leadership teams must ensure structures are in place to drive and action innovation. By actively engaging with ideas, constructive challenging ideas and continuous openness to new ideas, senior leaders can draw out the best from their workforce. Finally, developing a suitable model to track the success of ideas, and communicating these back amongst the organisation will really showcase the success of these projects.
Maynard Cooper Leadership Case Study
As Doug Williams, a shareholder at global law firm Maynard Cooper & Gale, says, commitment to, involvement in and activity on idea management software has to come from the top. He notes that, “proactive, committed and communicative leadership is essential to any meaningful innovation effort”.
Maynard Cooper rolled out Idea Drop in January 2021 and, recognising the importance of leadership, their initial challenge came directly from their managing partner.
The result was 300 users immediately signing up on the platform and putting forward their suggestions in response to the Challenge on how to protect and deepen “One Firm” culture and how to best serve their clients during and in a post-pandemic world while maintaining personal and professional connections.
Supporting and driving innovation on an idea management platform as a senior leader
Before an innovation project even begins, here are some questions for senior management to consider in order to ensure maximum impact and success:
1. What does innovation mean to you?
Be aligned to what innovation really means for you as a leader. Once this is clarified, business objectives and critical success metrics can be derived to measure the success of the innovation initiatives.
2. What does successful innovation look like?
Can you imagine and draft a PR article that describes the ultimate outcome that you are trying to achieve with innovation? This will help everyone in your organisation to be super clear on the vision and what you expect from them.
3. What are your main roadblocks and barriers to innovation?
There will always be barriers and you shouldn’t ignore them. Identify them and make a plan to overcome or minimise them.
Leadership's role and responsibilities on idea management platform
Own Innovation Challenges
The presence of key leaders across the Challenges is something we have always promoted with our clients: Challenges owned by senior leaders tend to receive 30% more ideas and 50% more views compared to other Challenges.
Make them consistent
Developing an Innovation Challenge routine, cadence and communications plan will encourage usage, interaction and ideation in your Challenges. Also make them relevant to everyone at the organisation.
Internal communication should surround your senior leadership team and drive people towards your innovation programme.
Leaders as ideators
Leaders should also be ideators and propose ideas themselves, possibly cloaked to ensure neutrality, to add to the platform’s energy. Leaders should also use likes and ratings to illustrate their belief in the platform and to recognise their people.
Bulletins posted by senior leadership to show appreciation and celebrate wins, big or small, can drive engagement with the innovation programme as people will view the programme as an important initiative that is sponsored and supported by leadership.