Are Your Innovation Efforts Dangling?

 In Entrepreneurship, Executive Strategy, Innovation, Musings, Uncategorized

Many innovation leaders are feeling “hung out to dry”. It’s not for the lack of desire to innovate, nor is it a lack of processes. One of the most noted challenges is the current innovation processes themselves are not always conducive to actually driving innovation to commercial success. All too often, there are too many competing interests and not enough definition; purpose, mission, vision building a compelling justification for ongoing funding.

  • Innovation effort hits balance sheet and potentially impacts profits
  • Organizational teams fear the unknown and not being involved so often do not support the effort
  • Some innovation leaders alienate team members by pushing too hard and too fast forward
  • Leaders fail to involve regulatory bodies early on in the effort of development
    • early feedback and involvement could improve outcomes, success and speed up the pace of approvals
  • Priorities of the day simply get in the way of doing new things as has been the case during the last few months
    • “we must first focus on surviving before we can focus on thriving”

Innovation is not a buzzword. Innovating and delivering new products to market also is not easy. Simply put innovating is not for the faint at heart!  Hyper disruption and uncertainty are defining our “new normal” world. Things are hanging at exponential speeds. CEO’s from over 100 of our interviews share that keeping pace with change and trends is increasingly daunting. “I fear making bad or wrong decisions!” a common statement from our recent interviews. Moving forward to plan for  future growth takes concentrated effort with very little tolerance for complacency. Innovating your path forward is critical. The choices for innovation are many, new business models, new products, leveraging new technologies, being disruptive or reinventing a new way of doing something can all be inventing, innovative, possibly disruptive

Disruptive is not a necessary outcome of all successful innovations!

How can CEO’s, Chief Innovation Officers and executive leaders improve the success rate of your company’s innovation efforts? Here are few tips to consider that make the effort to innovate just a bit easier on the organization:

1. Build your innovation team’s sandbox and give them freedom to work within these constraints. Innovation is not permission to roam freely and haphazardly. Under a defined set of guidelines with a defined budget and set of resources the innovation team can be quite effective.

2. Remove barriers to approvals under the above guidelines. Allow the innovation team to introduce to departments and company leaders new ways of thinking by hosting events or information sessions to the teams. By doing so it begins to remove fear of the unknown and the mystery around the effort. Open communications and systems can be a very positive outcome.

3. Don’t be afraid to approach innovation from outside. There are a number of ways to do this but you will need a strong leader inside to lead the way and manage the inside out and the outside in process.

4. Recognize that new innovations do not always fit nicely in the current company structure, processes and culture. Consider spinning it out and investing in new ventures as their own entities. 

5. Engage influencers early!

6. Ensure each innovation project has a mission, vision and tell a compelling story of WHY, WHO, HOW will your innovation solve a critical need

7. Understand and fill any skills gaps that would be required to ensure a successful long- term success. Fill those gaps with key talent early in the process.

8. Create a strong communication strategy to engage a phased approached to educating key stakeholders and department heads. If you’ve determined the innovation is not to involve the organization (so they continue to focus on day to day)… Define the team needed and begin a search early on. Plazabridge Group often acts as this early team to ensure successful commercialization of new products and innovations. Using outside firms could help mitigate go to market disasters or mishaps. 

9. Build the financial plans, and justifications early on and adjust as you go keeping the decision makers for funding in the loop. This too is often a missing component. The proof points for investments are not always strong or compelling.

10. Don’t fear using outside resources! Plazabridge Group’s average tenure in our client companies is 3.2 years.  We get engaged with our clients at various stages from ideation, to go to market, to finding the first customers, to building strategic partnerships as well as licensing opportunities to outside funding and acquisition opportunities. Outside resources can provide rolling up the sleeves actions and take a great deal of pressure the process. (case study example)

At the end of the day, you need strong people with a tenacity to pursue outside the world of the unknown. This does not always feel comfortable to the organization. Just don’t leave the innovation team “hanging out without their safety gear!”

We are always happy to assist! 

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