In the current “innovate or die” climate, all companies long to achieve innovation success, but many still struggle with the “how”. Since it helps to have a working model to emulate, we sat down with Cisco Innovation Program Manager Stephanie Hegarty for our latest webinar, How Cisco Achieves Millions in Innovation Program Outcomes – and she offered a lot for companies to aspire to!
Let’s start with why Cisco is such a great example. Here are some of their innovation program achievements:
- 50,000 employees (of 70,000+ globally) participate in Cisco’s innovation community
- 5,000 ideas from over 96 countries have been collected through their Smartzone platform (powered by Brightidea)
- 90+ ideas from 31 challenges have been implemented across various Cisco organizations
- $79 million in business impact has been generated to date – and they are shooting for $100 million by fiscal year-end in July
How did they do it? Stephanie shared a wealth of details in the webinar, but here are some highlights:
Proving the Value of your Innovation Program
One of the biggest obstacles to receiving the kind of top-down support Cisco has is the uncertainty around the effectiveness of innovation programs.
If you’re just getting started, Stephanie sums up her approach to tackling this uncertainty as, “Find one, do it well, do it again.” Meaning, find that “impossible business problem” – the one keeping your executives up at night – and create an innovation initiative to solve it. This could be via a hackathon, design-thinking workshop, problem-solving challenge, or other custom innovation initiative. Tapping into your top talent and crowdsourcing ideas from your employees across the organization will generate eye-opening results.
When you solve the biggest problems that really make a difference, and follow through to implementation, you will generate the ROI necessary to convince your executive team that “we should do this more often.” And then your program grows.
The key, no matter what stage of your innovation program, is to always be driving business outcomes. To examine each idea for alignment with strategic priorities and only incubate and implement the ones that fit that criteria.
Be sure during this process to communicate your results to stakeholders who might not otherwise realize that your team is the one that’s generating significant business outcomes. Says Stephanie, “When you can show ROI, they will want to fund you and share your successes with their colleagues.”
Offering Stakeholders Deep Support from Start to Finish
Being there to support the full innovation process is essential for your program’s success as well. Stephanie’s team is fully dedicated to working with Cisco’s various organizations to facilitate their innovation needs, and following things through all the way to implementation.
Once Stephanie’s team has identified the top ideas worth pursuing, she partners with each organization to coach and mentor, acting as a liaison to ensure the best ideas keep moving forward. They connect business units to coders, engineers, and technology. “Whatever they need, we connect the dots for them, using our incubation expertise to help with lean startup and discovery planning exercises.”
Why is this type of help important? According to Stephanie, it’s because so many ideas get stuck in the incubation phase, and “You want to get them through to implementation. Because that’s where you see the business outcomes.”
This is just scratching the surface of the insights and strategies Stephanie shared in this jam-packed webinar – so make a point to watch How Cisco Achieves Millions in Innovation Program Outcomes soon.
And let us know when you’re ready to let Brightidea power your organization’s million-dollar innovation efforts.