Strategic thinking: what to do after innovation implementation

Innovation is not an end in itself - it's a function of healthy growth in your organisation. This week, we're thinking carefully about strategic approaches to help you capitalise on successful innovation projects.

Oli Turner
by Oli Turner

Earning buy-in from management on your next big idea is a sizeable challenge for innovation managers, especially if you’ve yet to build a track record of successful implementations. However, it’s certainly not the only challenge you’ll face.

Innovation projects aren’t over when your new system or project is built. They’re only finished when they’re successfully used to achieve a positive outcome worth more than the resources consumed in their building. That means your work needs to be implemented, reviewed and measured against your KPIs before you can call it a success. This being the case, it’s essential that you think strategically about all the various facets of implementation before you start building. Without these crucial steps, all your hard work will be for nothing.

Let’s explore some strategic frameworks for getting the most out of your innovation projects. Even though these are post-roll-out concerns, you’ll need to think of them well in advance of your build. You may find that they affect your system architecture in the long term.

Communicating with stakeholders

If your stakeholders don’t know about your project, all your hard work will be for nothing. Think carefully about how you’re going to get your new system into the hands of the people that need it. This will vary greatly from organisation to organisation, but be wary about where and how you talk about your project. If you make an announcement in an internal newsletter, for example, you’ve got to be sure that everybody actually reads those messages. Bad communication can cause general confusion and scupper your chances of successful assimilation. Plan your comms ahead of time and consider working closely with internal (or even external) communications professionals.

Ensuring correct access rights

This is the next step from communication and equally as crucial. Consider inclusive and exclusive access rights for your system; identifying who shouldn’t be using it is just as important as identifying who should. Carefully plan how you can grant access to the right people, whether it’s through simple password protection or more sophisticated security methods.

Getting the word out

This one is more for commercial organisations, but could be important for the public sector too. If your innovation project is designed to help you achieve deeper market penetration, you need to align your innovation roll out with an effective marketing and/or PR strategy. This can be an enormous challenge in itself and needs to be planned in the strategy phase alongside your project plan. If your target audience has no idea that your innovative new product exists, it’s doomed to failure.

Plan carefully how you’re going to market the features of your new system and differentiate them from what your product is already known for. One company that’s doing this really well right now is Paypal with their Money Pools and other cost-sharing features. Take a look at their ‘Tabs, Cabs and Kebabs’ campaign to see it in action.

Tracking and analysing your results

All of the above are essential pieces of the strategic puzzle for your innovation roll out. However, without a tracking and analysis framework in place, you’ll never know whether any of them have been successful or not. It’s essential to consider your tracking methods before implementation, as you might need to build feedback mechanisms into your technology to collect uptake data. Your ability to track your successes will be a crucial constraint on further innovation within your organisation.

Expanding on your success

Once your new platform is in place and running successfully, the first question you’re going to be asked is “where else can we use this?”. Certain technologies and processes are well-suited to use in different contexts across your organisation. However, you may need specific architectures in place in order to make this happen, like API technologies or extra databases. Strategic planning ahead of time around potential further uses of your system could save you some colossal headaches further down the road.

To learn more about how we help our clients plan innovation projects here at Idea Drop, ask us anything you like in the chat box below. We love fielding questions about strategic thinking in innovation.

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