Innovation is ideas or activities that drive significant business value. When companies embark on innovation initiatives, many factors need to be considered including what capabilities an organisation needs to drives
workforce engagement and business value.
Innovation doesn’t happen by accident – a strong culture and structured programs are crucial to driving success. The actions of senior leaders are the most important actions to obtaining results.
In this whitepaper, we explore the key tasks that senior management must partake throughout the innovation projects to ensure maximum impact and success.
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The role of senior leadership in driving innovation
These are activities required from this management group that not only structures but facilitates innovation across your organisation. These steps are the first steps towards executing a strong innovation initiative.
Creating qualitative measurement
Before executing an innovation framework of any sort, senior management must be aligned to what innovation really means for them. Business objectives can then be extracted, where critical success metrics can then be derived in order to measure the success of innovation initiatives. Innovation should always be designed to create measurable business value, so before you embark on a full innovation process, ask yourself what it is your organisation is hoping and expecting to achieve?
These are typical success measurements that are common with other similar organisations:
- Increasing annual revenue by X% through more product or service sales
- Decrease production/operational costs by Y%
- Identify cost savers to save Z% per annum
- Reduce employee attrition by X%
- Increase productivity by X%
Creation of idea qualification criteria
Broadening further on the above qualitative measurement, defining what is necessary to capture within an idea can not only save you time in the long run, but also will manage the expectation of your entire workforce. If you haven’t defined what is necessary for an idea to succeed, you may find you gather less enriched ideas, resulting in many hours of your time trying to figure out if these ideas really are useful.
Challenge curation and execution
When looking to source ideas that will result in attainment of your business objectives, communicating challenges in campaign form will unearth the most relevant ideas. Carefully curated challenges can not only increase the numbers of ideas generated, but also the level of collaboration amongst your workforce as well as showcasing to you whether your teams are aligned to your overall organisational goals.
Best practices for challenge curation suggests short, succinct challenges with an obvious description of the problem to solve and a clearly defined call-to-action generates the highest level of engagement. To further increase engagement, you must look at the most appropriate time to launch a challenge. For example, is launching a challenge at 9am on a Monday really the best time to expect people to drop everything and submit an idea?
Actioning ideas in the innovation process
This stage of the innovation cycle is where ideas are taken further into projects and execution to drive a measurable outcome which links back to the qualitative measurements that were put in place.
Idea impact assessment
Identifying the right ideas to invest in can be difficult. There is a fear that if you decide not to progress with one idea, it could very well turn out to be the one that would have generated the highest impact and value. We’ve identified that ideas should be assessed under an impact versus effort matrix – this will quickly help you discover those ideas that can be executed within the required remit of what you’re looking for.
Approving budgets and resources
After ideas are selected and socialised for approval, there are a group of managers who are in charge of providing the necessary budgets and resources to fund the project into execution. An idea cannot truly flourish into execution unless those responsible can provide the necessary support. A delay in this support not only impacts the project but will also impact the innovative culture that has been driven internally.
Rewards and Communicating
The most important role a manager can play in the innovation journey is the visibility of their support. Rewards can be in any size or form, whether this be cash initiatives or career recognition – the majority of the workforce will appreciate the obvious communication of gratitude and feel motivated through hearing other colleagues’ success stories.
Extracting the best from your innovation initiative
Strengthening a senior executive’s role in the innovation process will result in a highly engaged workforce, a strong and structured innovation process which deliver 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.
- Senior Leadership support is crucial to a successful innovation project
- There are typically two groups of managers who either drive innovation or action innovation
- Structure, visibility and an open mind are three core pillars to driving desired outcomes