It is but quite natural for organisations to protect and put under the wraps any innovation that is happening inside the organisation across its products and processes. Certainly this is more so to keep off the competition and use that as a key competitive advantage and prevent any loss of intellectual property. In short, over time fences along the boundaries of the organisation are built to protect the internal innovation from the outside world.
Even before the organisation is ready for open innovation, here are the key pre-requisites that need to be accomplished.
(1) Build a culture of internal crowdsourcing
Innovation isn’t and shouldn’t be limited to your research and development labs OR only about the respective team or people handling a particular product or service. An organisation is actually the sum of all its parts – the people, the products, the processes and the profits (markets). Innovation cannot be effective in silos or in isolation. You need to be build a culture of crowdsourcing solutions, ideas, feedback and suggestions from across the organisation, right from your shop floors to the top floors and that too horizontally across all your departments, be it sales & marketing or production, or accounting or even people management. It is only when views, opinions and experience of a collective group of diverse people are captured, you get a all round perspective and view of the final solution.
(2) Follow an inclusive approach towards innovation
Just focusing on the product or the service or the process isn’t going to deliver the real potential and value of innovation. You have to approach innovation with an all-inclusive mindset, be it the people, processes, product or even the profits (customer and markets). This way, you are developing and building solutions that are quite robust and even scalable as you will have worked out all possible areas that need to adapt and accept the outcome of the innovation in a highly effective and positive way. In fact, inclusive innovation also ensures a buy-in from all stakeholders thereby eliminating or reducing bottle-necks or hindrances to the implementation of the solutions.
(3) Move away from fragmented towards universal, integrated solutions
No matter how big an organisation is, it always begins its journey from being a small unit. With time as new business units get formed and distributed across countries, due to the cultural, functional and operational differences, priorities and goals and even the people driving and managing those business units, they all end up being run by diverse and fragmented solutions. While fragmented solutions do get integrated and linked up, those integrations lose their edge with time as they become outdated, chaotic and legacy bandages.For an organisation to function smoothly, it needs clog free data and information flow lines that connect across the entire length and breadth of the organisation. Building, adopting and deploying universal state-of-the-art solutions that scale along with the organisation and are flexible enough to meet the needs of the existing and the future business units and business needs is of paramount importance to the longevity and success of the organisation.
(4) Prepare the organisation for 360° innovation
In a bottom-to-top, incremental and continuous innovation model, your last mile work force and bottom floor employees are responding to day to day issues and challenges by coming up with small, incremental improvements and solutions that are small but important victories. Being able to tap into those across the entire organisation and spread the learnings and best practices without any lock downs through horizontal deployments ensures that the value delivered is capitalised effectively.
The strategic challenges faced by the top management and leaders require to be channeled down through the middle management and finally to the last mile and front line teams for ultimate implementation and execution.In such scenarios, idea challenges and campaigns help crowdsource from diverse regions of the organisation, innovative and creative solutions which are further passed through internal social interactions in the form of votes and comments to help identify the most popular or most appropriate and best solutions.Further, by involving the suppliers that supply you the parts or services and even the customers and their teams that interact with our products and services, you are actually completing the 360° innovation loop, which drives total innovation and delivers exponential Return on Innovation (RoInn).
(5) Connect the missing dots
No organisation can isolate itself from the environment it is into, be it the competitors or the changing dynamics of global economic factors. The advancements in technology in an altogether different arena can also leave a profound impact on the organisation, much so to the surprise of the thinkers and assumptions of the stakeholders. It is therefore important that each organisation expands its vision in a way to connect those dots and be able to identify and act on those signals and events that would stimulate and drive innovation cycles within it.
For example, various industrial conferences, research papers and changing technology landscapes are the forums where an organisation will be able to pick up the best practices, changing trends as well as the right knowledge to proceed towards it’s own response. It’s highly important that these dots are well connected, not just looking back but looking in all possible directions.
(6) Scale up engagement across all levels
Innovative ideas per se cost nothing but not having enough of them isn’t a good situation either. For innovation to be really effective, it is of paramount importance that organisations build deep into its ethics and values, the accountability towards innovation and to ensure that it is sustained, frameworks need to be in place to recognise and rewards the consistent performers and contributors.
Overall, every modern day organisation understands and appreciates the deepest need to constantly innovate so as to remain and retain its market leadership and avoid being disrupted.
Start driving innovation across your organisation today.