There are stages of growing pains for big corporations as they learn to invest in design and innovation, and one of the first is figuring out how to invest in the right talent. Just last year, we...
Last November, Angela Yeh, Founder and CEO of Yeh IDeology, took part in DMI’s Web Conversations, geared towards organizations and business owners, management and hiring managers with the specific topic challenge: "How to Build Innovation into Your Organization” In this series, we’ll be revisiting Angela’s talk, “Integrating Innovation,” while highlighting excerpts, thoughts from the talk, and delving further as we go into each of Angela’s 7 best tips for innovation success and 3 major pitfalls to avoid.
Shall we continue?
INTEGRATING INNOVATION Step #7: Innovation Continuity. Obtaining Consensus / Maintaining Coordination
Steps 1-6 covered different types of innovation, scaling your initiative(s), determining your starting point, identifying your change agents, beginning your plan of action, and balancing your exciting end-goals against the tough details that demand your focus.
In the case study from Step 6, the team came to us to build an innovation team so to be perceived as “a Google or Apple.” The tough details, however, were internal regarding their management structure, which had to be addressed first before considering the nuances of their external persona.
This segued beautifully into a listener comment that came in during the original webinar: “What if, during an innovation initiative, despite creating innovative solutions and implementing them, the C-Suite still doesn’t change their management process?”
This is a common scenario. You’ve probably seen it before where “innovation” is being mandated from the top-down, while solutions are germinating from the middle- and bottom-up. There’s nothing wrong with this structure, except when the C-Suite – despite believing in the value of innovation, and understanding your solutions conceptually – underestimates or misinterprets their value, and as a result, changes their investment in the project, and/or fails to adapt their processes to the very change they mandated.
Sometimes its a matter of time and timing. It may take an organization multiple generations of exposure for an innovative idea to take hold. There may be different C-level individuals at the helm, or numerous teams bringing different solutions to the table that compete for company dollars and attention. In some cases, the innovation team itself evolves, is laid off or moves on, and a new set comes in to redevelop the solutions. Sometimes a project just needs several pitches to convince the C-suite it’s a good idea worth investing in.
The key here is continually educating your stakeholders, particularly those holding the purse strings or the power necessary to move forward. It’s about teaching the various constituents, obtaining buy in, and, once you get going, maintaining that consensus and coordination. At Yeh IDeology, we frame it with this question: How do you get everyone on the same page and also keep them turning at the appropriate pace?
In examples we’ve seen, you could have a variety of individuals from different departments coming to the table, all touting that they need innovation and they're ready to support it. Then, when it comes down to building the program, and they’re knee deep in a new product concept or initiative, they suddenly realize “Wow, everyone has a completely different perspective on what’s really needed and how much they’re willing to invest.” It’s about understanding – each team member knowing the other and the entire team, as a whole, while sharing the same vision, plan, and understanding of the objectives.
In some companies, this understanding must extend across an entire organization, requiring the right leaders to effect that change on a corporate-wide structure. In others, it’s very specific to a more narrow aspect of the business, whether that be technology, sales, or customer service, a certain product category, etc.
It’s worth re-mentioning here that innovation is an iterative process and throughout the discovery and execution stage new findings can change the course and direction of an initiative. Be mindful when this happens. It's wise to touch base with all the stakeholders involved so that everyone with a hand in the project is adjusting efforts and expectations accordingly.
So remember, regardless of the variables – we can’t emphasize this enough – continuity of innovation relies on consensus and coordination. Your team must be clear on the deliverables for each department, manager, and stakeholders, while constantly communicating and educating each other every step of the way. Say it with us: consensus and coordination, coordination and consensus.
Next on our blog series: Step #1 to Failure: Siloing & Orphaning. Avoiding the Guitar Solo
Interested in this topic or others we've been speaking about? Click on the word bubble to leave us a comment, send a tweet, or connect via LinkedIn! Want to hear directly from Angela Yeh and her 15+ years of design recruiting experience? Drop us a line at email@example.com
This past November, Angela Yeh, Founder and CEO of Yeh IDeology, took part in DMI’s Web Conversations, geared towards organizations and business owners, management and hiring managers with the specific topic challenge: "How to Build Innovation into Your Organization” In this series, we’ll be revisiting Angela’s talk, “Integrating Innovation,” while highlighting excerpts, thoughts from the talk, and delving further as we go into each of Angela’s 7 best tips for innovation success and 3 major pitfalls to avoid.
Shall we continue?
INTEGRATING INNOVATION Step #2: Scaling Innovation. Incremental or Monumental.
Last week’s blog focused on identifying the types of innovation best suited to your organization and the challenges at hand. Call it the “What” and “Where.” Which brings us to “How much?”
So you’ve identified the change you want – but what amount do you need? To what extent are you even capable of now in the near-term, and going forward with the right resources and investment? We’ll discuss the latter in Step 5, but for now, let’s focus on another essential part of the Discovery phase: Scale.
Clients often come to us and say: “It’s time for us to build an innovation center.” We hear this a lot. But for what purpose? Let me say that in every organization, there are multiple initiatives that have to be invested in. Some of them will be incremental, and some will be monumental and some will be low hanging fruit, and some will require a great deal of investment, and a lot more collaborators brought in to really make that initiative successful. It’s important to look at your organization first. If you can afford to build an “innovation center” outright, then so be it; that’s incredible. But in reality, the majority of businesses out there do not understand the amount of investment that this actually takes, and rarely are they set up to effectively execute this kind of monumental shift.
Pamela Decesare, DMI board member sums up the inherent challenges nicely: for most businesses, there’s “distribution channels, there’s methods, processes, and things they have in place to run the business as it is… How do they figure out how big a shift they need to make? How do they know what [kind of shift] they’re even willing to make?” More often than not, the changes you’re able to make initially towards innovation will be incremental.
So where do you begin? How do you assess and decide amongst the various priorities that exist if you cannot afford to build an entire innovation center? In most businesses, there is an existing structure in place, which can be complex to look at (and difficult to change), but there is a solution to this. It’s about being more analytical about your process and system, before you go ahead. I heard this term applied recently to this phase of a project – taking a diagnostic. A lean team has to look at the big picture; think of the strategy for their organization and brand / cross-brand; be mindful, and even champion, the challenges and goals of the various divisions (regardless of your team’s home base); and delve into the various sectors of the business, whether structural to the entire firm or specific to particular product categories. You have to list and, kind of, profile each challenge, and then collectively decide which of them to hit first.
This list, analysis, and resulting prioritization is the crux of this phase. Use this initial diagnostic – of both your department and company as a whole – to establish the foundation for determining your scale.
Next on our blog series: Step #3: Awareness of Innovation. Establishing the Baseline Amongst Your Stakeholders.
Interested in this topic or others we've been speaking about? Want to hear directly from Angela Yeh and her 15+ years of design recruiting experience? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org