Innovate to Thrive – Time to Open the Throttle

Innovate to Thrive - Time to Open the ThrottleAs leaders search for the next process that will transform their organizations into category leaders, for many – it seems – the answer is close at hand: innovation.

Over the past several weeks on this blog, we’ve reviewed key imperatives that formed “Robert’s Rules of Innovation” and that together create the foundation upon which to build, improve, sustain and grow an organization’s innovation mandate.

Consider this the closing chapter in an 11-step treatise on putting what you’ve read into action. First, a brief summary…

Consider the lesson on the first imperative – Inspire and Initiate – to realize the steps necessary. The power of inspiration cannot be over-estimated in the process of innovation. Inspire your people, and then hit the throttle.

With inspiration as the wind in your sails, next comes the realization that with No risk, there can be no innovation. Companies must be willing to take some risk to potentially realize the benefits of innovation.

We discovered how important innovation is to the New product development process it, and how Ownership across the organization – from the CEO to the rank-and-file employee – fuels buy-in to successful innovation.

Innovation, we learned, fuels value creation, yet accountability, training and coaching, and idea management bring value to the process and its individual elements. Finally, the mandate to observe and measure every step of the process brings quantifiable metrics to the process, which – hopefully – delivers net results / net rewards.

Together, these imperatives drive innovation.

With these imperatives in place, now visualize the role they play in your organization and issue a call to action: Innovate to thrive.

How should you start? Here are three final tips to get you started…

  • Just Do It. Like the Nike commercial, it’s all about execution. You can read books and blogs on innovation. You can write plans for your next innovative pursuit. Yet as the Chinese proverb says, “Every long journey begins with one small step.” With the plan in hand, work the plan.
  • Communicate. This cannot be stressed enough. From the CEO to the Chief Innovation Officer to every team member involved in the process, communication is essential to relaying key information about goals, intent, progress (from the biggest success to the smallest setback), and lessons learned from any failure. Whether by email, IM, a collaborative whiteboard, or recurring meetings, communicate your milestones.
  • Get committed. Personal involvement from the CEO means, “No Lip Service.” From the highest levels, there must be a hands-on presence in update meetings, project rankings, and troop motivation. You must set the example. You must walk the talk.

You’ve been given the tools and insights. Now, it’s time to implement an innovation initiative in your organization. You don’t have to start big; in fact, like so many first-time projects, a beta may be the best way to test the initiative without investing too much time, manpower or resources – only to later discover whether the concept was worthy of pursuing further.

The key, though, is to kick it off. Create a personal action plan, follow it through, get engaged with personal involvement, and be there.

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Robert F BrandsRobert Brands is the founder of InnovationCoach.com, and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival”, with Martin Kleinman – published Spring 2010 by Wiley (www.robertsrulesofinnovation.com).

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