In order for organizations to successfully achieve innovation – the lifeblood of any company – Robert’s Rules of Innovation gives ten imperatives to follow in order to attain sustainable growth. The ten imperatives begin with the first step that needs to be accomplished before any progress can be made, and that is to inspire and initiate. After all, every team needs inspiration to begin a new product development (NPD) process that will drive them towards successful innovation.
Inspiration for companies comes from the leaders, so it is the leader’s responsibility to initiate and drive the innovation program. For the program to be taken seriously and incorporated as part of the company’s culture itself, the CEO or designated leader must set a schedule of regular meetings. Regular, in-person meetings are the only way for team members to accepts the serious non -wavering intend, recognize the goals and deadlines of the project, and it ensures that the innovation program will not just fall off the map. It’s easy to instruct team members to be conscientious of Innovation, but new products will not come to fruition unless members feel a sense of accountability and urgency for the NPD process.
At New Product Development meetings, take action steps to ensure progress is made:
- Address issues and concerns.
- Share research and results.
- Recalibrate priorities.
- Make new decisions.
- Set objectives and action items to be completed for the next meeting.
- Request progress reports.
The leader’s inspiration and commitment sets the tone for the rest of the organization. By setting a standard of expectations, others see the NPD process as a priority and an indispensible part of the company corporate culture.
Think about the most innovative companies and you”ll find a charismatic involved hands-on leader, be it Steve Jobs of Apple, Herb Kohler of the Kohler company or any small innovative trendsetting company for that matter.
Here are some inspiration tips from my book to help you get started. There are three key steps to achieve the type of Innovation culture that inspires and creates intra-organization cohesion:
- Lead by Example: It all starts at the top. Management buy-in and support of innovation and ideation is critical. And by support, I mean both material and emotional. It needs to not only endorse, but proactively push for Innovation. It’s the only way for your team to get the motivation to take time from their “day jobs” to make Innovation happen;
- Over-Communicate, Under-Promise: Talk up overarching Innovation visions, successes (and failures), without hyperbole or pie-in-the-sky verbiage. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Keep it real. Internal and external communications enhances group buy-in to Innovation goals. It’s important to articulate your grand vision and provide the compelling case for change.
- Silo Demolition: Knock down the barriers that keep silos apart by creating cross-functional teams between groups that don’t typically interact. This keeps the flame of cooperation – and Innovation – burning brightly. “Silo-itis” can smother buy-in for innovation.
Robert 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).