Get Great Engagement with Your Innovation Program. Kaiser Does.

Get Great Engagement with Your Innovation Program. Kaiser Does.

It’s never easy to build internal buy-in around something new in an enterprise. And that difficulty is compounded when there’s an air of uncertainty around the how, when and why the ‘new something’ is being done. Innovation programs feel the brunt of this resistance, naturally – unless you’re able to creatively reframe this thinking.


By Making Your Innovation Program Irresistible, which was the topic of a recent Google Hangout Brightidea hosted. We had an exceptional panel of innovation experts sharing insight, including:

  • Ieasha Taitano, VP of Innovation and Design Thinking at LPL Financial
  • Dan Weberg, Director of Nursing Innovation at Kaiser Permanente
  • Angie Winegar, VP Strategy and Innovation at Farm Credit Services of America

We covered tactics to consider before, during and after innovation program deployment. Some highlights follow.

Change Management Mastery

Understanding what TO and not to say to different stakeholders when you kick off your innovation program is key. Personas help, as do interactive tours to help users visualize the process. But the main struggle, as Weberg notes, is “helping your end users understand what innovation is and how it will help whatever they’re holding on to.” You need to “address concerns openly and transparently, communicating what you’re trying to achieve – the end goal, not the timeline.” So sharing that you intend to troubleshoot widget A by Q2 in 2017 is not what we’re going for here, but “creating a widget that improves work/life balance” is.

And then there’s how to communicate this information as well. One size will not fit all, so you’ll need to consider multiple modalities – from a one-page email (with messaging crafted by your marketing pros) for general awareness to a 10-page PowerPoint deck that digs into specifics for your executives.

“Look at every medium your marketing team has to offer,” Winegar advises, “particularly on your internal website.” And when it comes to keeping stakeholders consistently informed and invested, Winegar’s team creates a quarterly innovation insights newsletter that captures activities across the organization, including videos and pictures.

But you need to be sure to practice what you preach.

Spoonful of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down

If you want to sell innovation at your firm, you need to take your own medicine. “We often evangelize about tools, but then don’t use them,” cautions Taitano. “So we need to move beyond that to show ‘this is how to do it and this is us doing it in action!’”

Beyond being your own best customer, you’ll still need to sweeten the pot – and that will require creating excitement. Taitano says, “Good experience management is really important. Explain what’s going to happen, the steps in the process and how they’ll likely feel through the steps, so those reactions don’t stop them or get in the way.” And that involves understanding where your people are on the innovation spectrum too. “If you don’t have an innovation pipeline yet – you need to focus first on getting folks ideating [first].”

If you have pipeline, then you can look to an innovation program to manage the process, but pushing your people into a process they’re not prepared for could doom you before you begin!

Want to learn more? Take a listen to the full Making Your Innovation Program Irresistible hangout for many additional tips these innovation pros offer!