Selling Innovation Internally, Regardless of Your Audience

If you missed our extremely informative Google Hangout this week on Selling Innovation Management Inside Your Enterprise we have highlights to help you sort out your internal sales pitch. First, a quick hat tip to our panelists who all work at risk adverse companies but have succeeded in driving a culture of innovation. Their advice is summarized in the mashup that follows: Gary Hasty, Director of Innovation & Strategy, AT&T Valerie Lancelle, VP of Enterprise Innovation, US Bank Laurent Benichou, Director of Innovation & Foresight, AXA When it comes to selling innovation internally, the struggle is two-fold: Demonstrating value to the C-suite Getting employees on board as participants So let’s start with the big guys (and gals) first – how do you get on the radar of the decision-makers who are ultimately in charge of the ongoing budget you will/won’t get? Creating a sense of urgency is key – and what better way to do that than speak to the great idea you all had last year that was never implemented (but may have been by your competitor). Or by sharing stories about other industries where folks have been disrupted because they failed to innovate (there are many). And encouraging friendly competition between departments never hurts. Much. Another great way to do this that Laurent of AXA shared is to start off with a Challenge and share the results. This helps people feel the potential of more successes. Once you’ve obtained a budget to seed a trial run, select a challenge that speaks very specifically to the pain points your business is facing. And solicit ideas to solve it....
Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety: Program Sponsors’ Creed – Role & Responsibilities

Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety: Program Sponsors’ Creed – Role & Responsibilities

Whether your company has been innovating all along, or is just getting started with making innovation an intentional focus, there’s one fact that holds true: you can’t accomplish anything without dedicated support for both your overarching innovation program, and the individual challenges it comprises. Success starts from the top down at each level of your enterprise. You can’t expect results from your innovation program without executive approval and support, nor can you expect results from a single challenge if those overseeing it are less invested than the participants who’ve signed on to take part. With individual challenges, the crucial liaising role is that of the Challenge Sponsor – who is responsible for motivating and coordinating with the rest of the challenge team, as well as supplying funding and additional talent as needed. Challenge Sponsors answer to the Innovation Program Manager, who answers to the Innovation Executive. The Innovation Executive basically fulfills the role of sponsor for the innovation program as a whole. They are charged with keeping innovation endeavors moving forward, and proving their merit to the enterprise leaders. But whatever level of sponsorship you’re responsible for, there is an inherent sense of duty to adhere to – a creed, if you will. Here are directives both a good innovation program sponsor and challenge sponsor should follow: Be bold – In a sense you’re the biggest cheerleaders of innovation at the company – poised to seek out opportunities for creating positive change (and increased revenue) through innovation. Don’t be a shrinking violet – be a visible presence that reminds everyone that innovation is part of your culture (especially if...
Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety:  Which Came First – The Sponsor or the Challenge?

Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety: Which Came First – The Sponsor or the Challenge?

Every person involved in your company’s innovation program and process is valuable, of course, but one of the most vital roles that must be strategically filled for an innovation challenge to meet with success is that of Innovation Challenge Sponsor. The Challenge Sponsor is the person who bridges the gap between Innovation Program Manager and Innovation Challenge Manager – providing resources and ensuring that everyone working on the challenge has what they need – from funding to support staff – and that the innovation challenge is in line with the company’s mission and goals. Securing sponsorship for challenges is often part of the Innovation Program Manager’s duties (at least tangentially) and one that requires them to harness their inner marketing/private investigating skills – because one of the surest ways to get a sponsor on board is by identifying pressing business needs you can solve on their (department’s) behalf. After all, you’ll have a greater chance of success with someone who is deeply invested in the challenge’s outcome. All you have to do is find them. Which Came First, The Sponsor or the Challenge? If your innovation program has been up and running for a bit, you can easily approach those who’ve shown clear interest in challenges thus far or those with an obvious problem to solve. However if your program is new, or if you aren’t sure where the biggest opportunities are for innovative growth – ask. Sit down with executives and managers and find out what problems need solving. (This is where that private investigator bit comes in handy.) If your interview skills aren’t great, find the team...
Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety: Smashing Silos Encourages Participation – Here’s How

Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety: Smashing Silos Encourages Participation – Here’s How

All forward-thinking companies are focused on innovation – at least in theory. In practice, many companies may think they’re working on innovation, when all they’re actually doing is circling the drain. Because innovation appears to be such a mystical process, companies lose sight of any process – waiting and hoping for a lucky break, without any real strategy. Which is exactly why they fail. Innovation is a creative process – and one that lends itself well to the benefits of community. When companies innovate, their best endeavors are for the good of all. So why not rely on the input of all in deciding what gets innovated? This post is to help you work through hesitations about seeking input in unusual places. Traditional corporate structure is crumbling. The antiquated notion that each department is a nation unto itself – the metaphorical silos of old – has been shifting, and enterprises are now embracing a new world of cross-collaboration. And nothing stands to benefit from this shift more than your innovation program. If you’re following the advice we’ve laid out in previous posts about innovation programs you know that assembling a killer team is a key component of getting your innovation program up and running. And smashing silos is one way to make sure your team is well-rounded and representative of your company as a whole – not just one department. There Is No “Silo” in Team Let’s be clear about something before we go any further: Silos aren’t ALL bad. As FastCompany’s Neil Smith says, “Silos are necessary in companies. They provide the structure that allows companies to work…....

These Innovation Program Successes Can Be Yours

Brightidea has helped enable powerful companies to distinguish themselves from competitors within their respective industries. Brightidea customers shared their unique success stories using Brightidea’s innovation program software in a series of case studies. These include Adobe, BT, Cisco, CLP, GE, Mentor Graphics and Prodigy. Some highlights from the thriving innovation programs are outlined below: BT Group is a world reknowned provider in communications solutions, with over 100,000 employees stretching across 170 countries. In the past, they’ve had trouble communicating amongst their diverse and scattered group of employees, which is why they decided to implement Brightidea’s innovation program software. They used the software to create a Rewards Shop, awarding employees whose ideas were implemented with 10% of the idea’s bottom line benefits of the first year performance. By providing an incentive of this scale across a massive organization, it drew in over 10,000 creative new ideas. John Nevins, Head of Innovation Consulting at BT, said: The greatest asset BT has is its people. Our role is to provide a mechanism for BT people to express their ingenuity, and the New Ideas Scheme has been instrumental to achieving that goal. The crowdsourcing project ultimately resulted in cost savings and new revenue generated in excess of over $100 million. Read further into this case study here. Cisco is a worldwide networking and communications technology provider who is committed to serving global key markets, especially Europe, with their innovative initiatives. To greater highlight the importance of the European region, Cisco decided to utilize Brightidea software to create an innovation program to effectively crowdsource and harness their employee’s creativity. The leader of Cisco innovation...
Idea Management: 5 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Idea Management: 5 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Having worked with some of the world’s most innovative companies over the past 15 years, Brightidea has seen where idea management can come up short. The ability to crowdsource ideas from your employees, customers, and others can be a powerful tool to stimulate innovation – if done right. But too often, companies fail to achieve the promise of collaborative innovation. To help you beat those odds, here are 5 common mistakes that typically plague idea management processes – and how you can avoid them: 1. Going It Alone One of the biggest mistakes occurs when an innovation team kicks off their program without the appropriate buy-in and sponsorship. This typically dooms your program to failure from the outset. Why? Because without top-down executive endorsement that ties the program to corporate objectives and a strong voice within the business excited to take action on the best ideas, the program will quickly lose momentum and only deliver a database of aging ideas. Employees won’t value it as part of their day job and participation will be poor. Remedy: You need both strong executive sponsorship and strong business unit sponsorship to build and maintain excitement around the innovation program, the targeted innovation topics and the idea management process. This will set the program up for success from the beginning and ensure ongoing, inspired employee participation. 2. Focusing on the Front End Many companies start off their collaborative innovation program thinking only about the “idea gathering” phase of idea management, and fail to consider the complete “end-to-end” process. They make a big marketing push to get their employees to submit ideas, which they...