I once wrote an article called “Breakdowns in Innovation: The 2 I’s vs. the 5 D’s” based on my experience with so many organizations that fail to implement their great ideas. In that article, I described the all-too-common pitfall that business leaders regularly fall into, which is trying to move from their initial idea straight to implementation without more fully discussing what they are trying to accomplish and then designing a more complete solution such that they do in fact reach their final destination.
It is critical to gain the buy-in and support of not only those impacted by our innovations but also those who can drive the implementation process. Many leaders forget this critical piece of group dialogue and more complete planning as they focus on their “ingenious” ideas. Instead, they get wrapped up in how great it will be once they achieve their breakthroughs that they passionately push forward with their strong convictions.
I had the pleasure of listening to Rich Lobel, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer of CBS’ Altitude Group, share his thoughts on the topic of innovation during a workshop recently. Having started his marketing career in advertising at firms like Ogilvy and DDB, Rich is the master mind behind the new CBS Small Business Pulse solution. So how did Rich get his Fortune 500 multi-media entertainment company to support a small business solution like CBS Pulse? Read on for Rich’s 10 tips for fostering innovation within your organization.
- Believe big time in your idea – It’s not enough to have a good idea. You must firmly believe in it because it’s not a question of if but when you will face resistance to and even rejection of that idea.
- Illuminate the opportunity to others – Once you are clear on your innovative breakthrough, you have to share it with others and passionately enroll them in the brighter future you see as possible from implementing it.
- Show them how they are part of a greater good – As you invite others to jump on board with your idea, make sure to highlight how they will be contributing to something bigger and better than currently exists today. Everybody wants to make a difference in the world. Show them the way!
- Keep believing in your idea – Remember #1? You will encounter some obstacles and challenges along the way. Keep believing in yourself and your ideas, and you’ll likely experience these more as speed bumps than dead ends.
- Foster collaborative team meetings – As more and more people come on board, you’ll want to create a natural rhythm of meetings to update everyone on your progress, discuss the best path forward, determine exactly how to roll out your innovative idea to others, etc. Don’t forget that Idea to Implementation is not effective, so take the time to work through the 5 D’s.
- Make those meetings fun, inspiring and rewarding – Often times, these meetings and innovation efforts will be layered on top of everyone’s “day jobs”. Make sure they are fun and inspiring to keep everyone engaged, and consider how you might recognize and reward exceptional efforts that deliver exceptional results. This may be the best way to move from “your innovation” to “our innovation”, to get from “me” to “we”.
- Make the expectations and deliverables from the team known – Everybody needs to know not just where the finish line is but also what they can do to get you there. Innovation efforts require various roles ranging from executive champions to more tactical team members to provide execution support. Make sure everybody is clear on what you need from them to achieve your goals.
- Find creative ways to fund your innovations – In today’s world of scarce resources, it can be quite challenging to develop new product lines or launch new services that are investment intensive, especially when you work within a large corporate environment and perhaps one that is publicly-traded with sensitive shareholders. When we were young, we used to set up lemonade stands on the street corner to fund our most-wanted purchases. Why can’t you find outside organizations to sponsor your innovation efforts now? If you can’t, that might bring into question the viability of your innovation!
- Constantly be the cheerleader – Remember #1? Your team is on board. You even have some investors committed to your work. That’s great! You need to keep all of these critical players engaged until you do in fact cross the finish line though, otherwise you run the risk of running out of gas before you reach your intended destination.
- Find and nurture disruptive thinkers – For your innovation efforts to be anything more than your great idea, you’ll need to surround yourself with others who are willing to go against the grain. Innovation takes relentless commitment and perseverance, so the members of your team need to embrace this journey of being disruptive to the status quo in order to pursue the greater good. Not a small ask, and not one that many will be comfortable accepting. Find those who are, and you’ll get much further, much easier than if you don’t.
Are you falling short on implementing your innovative ideas? Need some help avoiding the all-too-common pitfall that countless business leaders regularly fall into? Check out the Strategic Planning page of Plus Delta’s website for some valuable information on how to produce breakthrough results by envisioning your ideal future to reach your intended destination. You can also call us at +1.310.589.4600 or email us if you would like to review any of these top 10 tips to foster innovation in your organization. Our consultants would be thrilled to help you gain the critical buy-in and support you need to implement your great ideas.