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Nothing drives a business faster than innovation, and nothing stifles it faster than a “that’s how we’ve always done it” attitude.
News startup Axios is a prime example of a business breaking down barriers and thinking outside the box. The company is make a big bet that other companies will pay to learn to write like Axios journalists. The new communications platform, AxiosHQ, launched in February, allows companies to send Axios-style internal newsletters, just the facts. Its cost? At least $ 10,000 per year. Whether leaders will be ready to invest that kind of money remains to be seen, but it’s a fascinating proposition.
Related: Why Your Marketing Team Should Be Journalists
What does it take for organizations to review, endorse and develop such innovative ideas? The answer is not simple and it varies from company to company. Innovation efforts have a lot of talk, but it is much more difficult to perfect a process of selecting and implementing the best ideas.
No magic wand for innovation
Just as data-driven decisions manage many aspects of an organization, leaders should use data to create a rubric for innovative ideas. It builds discipline and keeps everyone on the same page.
Without an evaluation process, innovation programs become myopic and may no longer align with long-term organizational goals. Having an organized process also takes the emotion out of decision-making to keep project focus and dollar spending as data-driven as possible.
For innovation to be successful, leaders must also align themselves with critical factors. This forms a living topic that can be adapted across the organization as the needs of the business change and evolve. Typically, some sort of innovation leader – an innovation manager, strategy manager, or business unit manager – will lead this team to make sure the process runs smoothly and stays on track. the right path.
When we developed our section at Coplex, we struggled to find a technical solution that was flexible enough while allowing us to manage our ideas. We ended up building one ourselves. We now use this tool to drive the underlying engine of our entire idea management process, and it works because a successful innovation strategy always starts at the top. Bring your entire leadership team together early in the process to discuss priorities and foster conversations about ideas, outlining your concrete vision along the way.
Related: Did someone reject your idea? Because of the coronavirus, they might reconsider
Here are three ways to assess your innovation ideas and create a framework to make them a strategic reality:
1. Create an innovation plan
Before you start to collect ideas from your team, you should first develop a plan, such as Google’s eight pillars of innovation – which defines the overall structure of the initiative. This helps put in place safeguards around problem spaces that the organization is willing to play in and, more importantly, over problem spaces that are off-limits.
An innovation plan is made up of three distinct elements: statement, antithesis and thesis. Your statement defines your company’s ambitions and explains why you believe in what you do, why now is the best time to do it, and what makes you the best fit for the job. From there, develop an antithesis that defines the core issues, business models, and technologies that you don’t intend to solve. Why? It removes distractions and keeps the focus on priorities. Finally, create a thesis that gives you a clear overview of how you’re going to invest in the problematic spaces, business models, and technologies to create the change you want to see.
2. Define innovation themes
Once you’ve developed a solid plan, it’s time to identify the themes of the problematic spaces that you intend to address. This step will define the categories your innovation ideas should fall into while clearly describing how your solutions might come into play.
Think of it as similar to how the National Association of Engineers (NAE) describes the many challenges that remain in their field. In his report on major engineering challenges, NAE defines themes (eg, joy, sustainability, health and safety) as areas that are conducive to innovation and rich in opportunity.
The main reason for taking this approach? This allows you to envision potential ways to innovate beyond what the organization previously envisioned – and set goals with those parameters in mind.
Related: What Sustainable Innovation Could Look Like In 2021
3. Match the measurement criteria to an item
Once you’ve defined your innovation themes, it’s time to develop the criteria you’ll use to measure your success. The global design firm IDEO has set itself the goal of quantify innovation by looking at the dynamics of internal teams of its clients as well as of other innovation-driven companies. The company identified six key areas of innovation, then sent its survey, titled “Creative Difference,” to large organizations to understand team members’ performance in innovation. Once the survey was completed, IDEO sent results with tangible innovation metrics and recommendations on how to track and achieve them in the future.
As you define how you measure innovation and create your unique rubric, keep in mind that you are not limited to traditional metrics. Feel free to be creative and innovative when you decide on these! It is possible to measure everything from societal impact to economic value, through organizational scale and the discovery of new markets.
The process of finding innovative ideas requires much more than a quick brainstorming session or selecting an attractive idea from a list. By creating an underlying philosophy and structure for prioritizing the ideas that flow through an organization, you can maintain control over the results of your innovation program instead of leaving anything to chance.