Don’t lose your place in the Fortune 500 by failing to keep up with digital disruption and AI advancements (Parry, 2024). Successful investment in digital transformation and innovation will help you remain competitive and win the race (Wiles, 2022).

BCG recently identified a shocking ‘innovation gap’. 83% of companies surveyed rank innovation as their top three priority, yet only 3% are prepared to deliver it. Not surprisingly 70% are planning to update their strategy and approach. (Manley et all, 2024).

Stand-alone innovation teams are often set up to help legacy organisations transform quickly. Innovation leads are in a pivotal position to help businesses leap ahead and so face considerable pressure. Without wider organisational support and strategic alignment, they are at risk, especially if initial projects fail or under-deliver.

If you are operating in a siloed and risk-averse environment where failure is not an option, consider these three tips to protect your innovation programme and help your organisation thrive.

1.        Inspire others to do things differently as well as do different things.

Innovation teams are often set up for game changing innovations. Yet innovation is also about incremental improvement of existing services.

Get visible results quickly by helping your colleagues improve existing services.

Begin your tenure with a quick a win that not only shows your potential but adds immediate value to your organisation.

Instead of focusing all your effort on creating a shiny new thing, look for immediate ways to drive improvement that aligns with current business priorities.

Examples could be as simple as revamping a retail offer, to optimising a landing page by leveraging performance data.

The key is to model new behaviours and involve stakeholders in doing things differently, e.g.  applying data and technology systematically to get improved results.

By involving stakeholders in the innovation process, you will change mindsets and create advocates who will become your change champions.

They will help replicate your approach on ‘business as usual’as you move on to ignite new game changing products.

2.        Create an ‘improvement movement’ inside your organisation.

Once you have proved a data driven approach enabled by technology delivers better day to day business performance, create a stakeholder community of innovators inside your organisation.

While at Lambeth Council, we sparked an ‘Improvement Movement’ to rally everyone around the optimisation cause. Giving innovation a clear purpose aligned with your business aims, helps build momentum.

You will be able to scale up by empowering colleagues to innovate themselves. Foster collaboration between different departments and ensure the provision of the tools and processes needed to become more tech savvy and data driven.

Company wide tasks forces involving People, Marketing and Tech are a great way to cover all the basis needed for innovation to succeed. For example, work with People and Culture to integrate service optimisation metrics into performance appraisals. Digital and IT teams will create a sandbox to test new digital products ideas.

Create a legacy of lasting change by sharing success stories openly through internal and external comms. ‘Working out loud’ is a transformational practice to adopt (Garfield S., 2018). It will help your programme take off.

Evolve your approach by expanding your repertoire of data driven approaches to include co-creation with a wide range of stakeholders including your customers.

Better performance from your efforts, will not only improve your relationships with colleagues, you will also win points with the C-Suite, particularly the Chief Financial Officer.

Once the ideas start flowing, you will no doubt require more robust project prioritisation and management processes, which you will be in a strong position to bring in if they are not already in place.

3.        Access specialist resources and manage upwards as you progress.

When embarking on new product development, ensure you have access to all the skills and resources needed to ensure your organisation’s success now and in the future.

According to Infosys, + 70% of executives believe advancements in technology are happening faster than their workforce can incorporate them. You are in prime position to future proof the business and colleagues’ careers. (Infosys, 2024).

Bring new capabilities in as needed to support your teams on the journey as they upskill. This includes leadership teams and boards as well as front line staff. The most effective and successful transformation programmes have C-Suite sponsorship.

Augmenting your skillsets will elevate insights, ideas, ways of working plus quality control and due diligence.

Involve senior stakeholders in the work as it progresses; help them make informed decisions at key milestones so they feel a sense of ownership, and learn what good looks like.

Although it might slow down the process initially, it will give you the cover needed to ensure your project is a success and that you secure sufficient investment to continue.

Once you have developed confidence through successful delivery, you will gain the trust needed to fuel future projects.

Need help?

These tips have been generated through years of hard-won experience on client projects (not AI!). Please get in touch to continue the conversation. We are developing a range of immersive experiences to help engage and upskill employees in the latest tech developments.

References

Infosys, The Future of Technology Skills, Available at: https://www.infosys.com/services/digital-workplace-services/documents/future-technology-skills.pdf; Accessed 04 June 2024.

Garfield, S., Working out loud Revisited, 27 March 2018, Available at: https://stangarfield.medium.com/working-out-loud-revisited-3c0c6c6b567f; Accessed 04 June 2024.

Manly, J., Ringel, M., MacDougall, A., Harnoss, J., Wolke-Perten, J., Backler, Wendi, Ketil, G., Kimura, R., Viner, B., Innovation Systems Need a Reboot, June 2024, Boston Consulting Group, Available at: https://www.bcg.com/publications/2024/innovation-systems-need-a-reboot, Accessed 15 June 2024.

Parry, M, J., Fortune 500 Firms in 1955 Vs. 2014, AEIdeas, 18 August, 2014 Available at https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/fortune-500-firms-in-1955-vs-2014-89-are-gone-and-were-all-better-off-because-of-that-dynamic-creative-destruction/, Accessed 04 June 2024.

Wiles, J., 7 cost reduction mistakes to avoid, Garter, 17 Aug 2022, Available at: https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/7-cost-reduction-mistakes-to-avoid: Accessed 04 June 2024.

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