You don’t need to invest millions to be innovative

Three practical tips for growing innovation in your organisation.

In an earlier perspective, we examined five key areas that are essential for driving innovation from within an organisation. But what do you do if innovation already happens and those pockets are loathe to relinquish their claim on a mini-innovation empire?

We have pulled together three practical tips based on our experience of delivering innovation projects in the public and private sector. 

1. Create a hub and spoke model

If you want to add shape and direction to pre-existing pockets of innovation, work with the passion of those already involved to help define a hub-and-spoke model. This allows an organisation to create some central focus and visibility without being perceived as a threat or jeopardising existing activity and relationships. The hub can provide the spokes with a number of benefits; from guidance on best practice techniques, to connections with relevant external parties. Ideally the hub should also provide funding, as this will encourage rapid engagement.

2. Evolve the innovation ecosystem

Set up a regular forum for those with a passion for innovation, wherever they sit. This doesn’t need to be time-consuming: as little as an hour a month can promote connections across the company and share helpful views and insight. These connections can also amplify the impact of innovations, identifying new use cases and helping innovators to refine their ideas. 

Once you’ve created an innovation community, internal and external communications will become increasingly important, so look to unite messaging across the hub and spokes. A combined force gives a more powerful and consistent message to employees, markets and suppliers. Visible support and messaging from executive sponsors is also key to setting the tone for a culture of innovation.

3. Enable others to deliver innovation

Build a coordinated training plan to help build and spread innovation capability. Formal training on challenge and ideation techniques is helpful but there is a wealth of material available for self-service learning. Pull this together and make it easy for people to access. Most of the value from training comes when it’s put rapidly into practice, so involve the existing innovation community to identify opportunities to support learners and get them involved in existing efforts. 

Effective Knowledge Management systems and processes can be a huge help here. A simple platform to access learning content, make connections, offer advice and celebrate success can be a great accelerator.   

Promoting a culture of innovation from within can dramatically raise the potential for a company to beat the market and stay ahead of competitors. It doesn’t need a huge investment but a coordinated approach, providing central weight and resource in concert with encouraging local efforts can pay dividends in the long-run. In our experience, these benefits go far beyond new products and services, helping to drive efficiency and greatly improving an organisation’s ability to attract and retain both customers and staff. 

For more information on a practical approach to growing existing innovation in your organisation, please contact Edward Charlish.

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Pandora Levinge Principal