A client of mine has a problem that many organisations would be happy to have – too many ideas and no way to vet them. I discovered this quite by accident while talking with her recently. I was discussing the need to have a comprehensive approach to innovation – why it’s best not left to chance and why it’s important to have a strategy. She said she’d done all that and it didn’t work.
When I inquired further it turned out that the strategy had worked really well:
“We got a lot of ideas but then it all fell over”
“There were too many ideas to vet”
I asked her what did she mean? She said the people who were vetting the ideas got overwhelmed by the sheer number of them. And here was the crux of the problem – they had a single point of vetting. Every single idea in the whole organisation went through one gateway (a committee of three), and it caused a bottleneck in the innovation value chain (we have a short quiz that can help you determine your bottlenecks – it is free. Just email us
This is why it’s important to have innovation readiness across the whole organisation. You need to be getting enough ideas from inside and outside the organisation, you need good ways to vet the ideas and you also need good ways to develop and implement the ideas. If there’s blockage at any single point, the whole flow gets stopped. (If you’d like to know more about the innovation value chain – get in touch for our free diagnostic).
But back to this client – what could they have done differently? Here are a couple of principles for vetting;
1. Have Multiple Gates Where Ideas Can Be Vetted.
A way to do this is to have “owners” for particular idea areas. If for instance the idea is around production have the production manager take charge of those. If the innovative ideas are around marketing, the marketing team should look out for those. This way you spread the vetting across the whole organisation. It also engages the people who know the most about it, and who are probably going to be the ones to implement it anyway.
2. Devolve the decision making further down the line
It’s well known in innovation that the right sort of culture for lots of ideas is one in which people feel they have autonomy and accountability. So why don’t you let your teams make their own decisions around which ideas to develop and how to do that. The only times it doesn’t work is when there are teams that are hostile to innovation.
3. Start Where There is the Most Need
Make a start on innovation in those parts of the organisation that need it the most. That way you get a few runs on the board before you spread it around to the rest of the organisation.
4. Take the Bottlenecks Out
Have a look at the whole pipeline, the innovation value chain and every step along the way. Identify your bottlenecks and leverage your strengths to make sure there’s a smooth flow of ideas from start to finish. If you like to know more about the innovation value chain get in touch and we’ll send you a copy.
In my client’s case it wasn’t that the strategy hadn’t worked – it had worked too well – it’s just that her strategy was missing some important aspects. Some parts of the organisation weren’t innovation ready. Once you’ve develop innovation strategy – make sure that every part of the organisation is ready and poised for innovation.
Cris helps organisations to develop innovation strategies, smooth out the innovation pipeline and develop high quality innovative ideas. His program “Innovation Readiness and Leadership“ is a concentrated immersive and practical program for middle and upper leaders, that has achieved great success. Get in touch if you would like to know more; have one of his value-add workshops or present to your leadership team.