Integrating Innovation Step 2

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