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Innovation Management: Dos and Don’ts

The basis behind innovations is to come up with new products or solutions. That in itself can open up new business development opportunities. Further, it can be a fantastic way to improve quality.

The challenge for most leaders is how to manage innovation. How do you get your team interested or motivated enough? The idea is to get them to think outside of the proverbial box and try out new ideas.

The giant search engine Google has found the perfect solution. They have the 20% rule, which is a rather interesting concept. Employees use 20% of their work time for projects outside their standard ones. They are free to explore ideas that can go towards benefiting the company.

Yet, even behind such brilliant ideas, some innovation management DOs and DON’TS exist. Let’s uncover what they are below.

Innovation Management Dos

DO Facilitate Innovation

Innovation management means providing the right atmosphere for the teams to create. That includes:-

  • Educating the teams on innovation and how it can benefit the organization. Remember, innovation is not their key area of expertise. Some training will open up their minds, eyes and may unleash reserves of creativity.
  • Encouraging open participation from everyone.
  • Being open to ideas and suggestions.
  • Validating ideas is a way to ensure everyone is working on what can produce the best outcomes.
  • Creating connections within the teams through team-building activities.
  • Breaking down silos to encourage cross-department participation. A team from the same department may not have the best ideas. Due to the nature of their work, they may have a granular approach to situations. But, mixing people from different departments can generate some pretty exciting ideas. This is due to different experiences and outlooks. 
  • Tolerating failure, which is quite common in innovation. How management reacts to disappointment will determine the team’s willingness to take risks.

DO Invest In Innovation Software

The right tools will make it easier for the teams to innovate. We talked about facilitating innovation by encouraging ideas. And with the right motivation, you can expect plenty of them. An idea management system will help with the sourcing and evaluation of ideas. The software will also make it easy to track outcomes.

Idea management software is great for managing thousands of ideas across many divisions. This is because everything happens on one platform. You don’t have to manage tons of emails, spreadsheets or documents, which can be a hassle.

When shopping for innovation software, look for one that offers many functionalities. It should, for instance, allow you to manage different portfolios. Innovative ideas will not only come from inside the organization. Hackathons, crowdsourcing, innovation labs or accelerators are other sources.

The software should also work at every stage of the innovation journey. Right from idea generation to conceptualization and actualization.

DO Show Management Support

The teams must know that they have the full support of the management. Innovation initiatives should receive recognition from the powers that are the decision makers in an organization. They are, after all, the ones who will give funding for the entire innovation journey.

Communicate the support to the teams. Better yet, let the company president or CEO address the teams.

It is also essential to keep up with providing feedback. Every small success should be worthy of some type of celebration or attention. Think about having some incentive or reward programs in place.

DO Hire an Innovation Manager

Someone has to lead the innovation process. And it is better if you get a professional to be in charge. Think about it much like hiring a finance or human resource manager. The primary role of the innovation manager is to be the catalyst or driving force behind what the teams do.

Innovation Management DON’TS

DON’T Be Too Rigid

Innovation is a good thing. But, you cannot force people to generate ideas on a whim. Indeed creativity comes from free minds. Don’t force rigid timelines on the teams to deliver. Instead, focus on creating an environment that motivates ideas generation at any time. Have an ideas box, kind of like a suggestion box. Encourage your teams to drop in their thoughts and make sure you give feedback.

Also, remember that there is no right time or perfect idea for innovation. With proper focus, a small idea can bloom into a massive success. So, allow yourself plenty of room to experiment. Don’t get stuck on the tiny details at the expense of the larger project.

DON’T Lose Control of the Innovation Process

Team buy-in is critical in any innovation program. But proper innovation management requires that you maintain control of the process. If you let many people influence every stage of the journey, achieving the end goal won’t be easy. If you have worked in a typical office, you know how politics and egos can come into play. 

Give the team about 30% control and maintain the rest. That way, everyone is clear about who is running things. Yet they don’t feel that the management is sidelining them. It is a delicate balance, but a good innovation manager can achieve great success.

DON’T Maintain a Very Tight Grasp on Everything

Innovation management is not about micromanaging the process. You may not like the pace at which things are moving. Sometimes, innovation can be very slow, and you may not see results for a long time. That may make you want to push the teams to move at a faster pace.

But, step back and ease innovation without applying a heavy hand. We go back to the point of hiring an innovation manager. The one with the right experience knows how the process goes and how best to manage the situation.

Final Thoughts

Innovation management can yield excellent results, depending on how you approach it. Creating the right environment that facilitates innovation is critical.

Invest in innovation management software like an ideas management system. The same applies to hiring an innovation manager to drive the process.

Give the teams plenty of support without micromanaging or being too rigid. Also, keep the doors of communication open and provide plenty of feedback.

Finally, remember that some of the best Innovations may have taken yards to actualize. Be patient and learn to tolerate disappointment without giving up.

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