Monday, May 3, 2010

Harnessing The Power of An Army of Innovators

Chris Andrews, Forrester Research reporting at FEI 2010

I just attended the first half of a session by John Caldwell of Leapfrog about his application of an innovation management tool (Kindling). John described what I would say is a pretty common story around using innovation management tools. John reported successes from this application – a number of new ideas generated, an increase in perception of the company as an innovator, some new product successes, and generally positive feedback on the application of the tool.

This is a good story to hear – sometimes I hear complaints about how easily these tools are applied, and the success of the programs. John was smart in a few regards:
• He acted as a manager on the project and a liaison to the business community.
• He supported his application of this tool with a big marketing campaign and appropriate idea management capabilities.
• He set up a way for ideas to be segmented and directed to the appropriate business unit areas (he did not try to take it all on himself)
• He considered the “barriers” to entry as a key part of the evaluation of his tools

I loved John’s last point about the CEO needing all of the ideas generated to be strategic. This maps to my recent reports on innovation stakeholders, which highlights the different interest areas for innovation. This point also echos a key problem raised in a later question: some ideas simple, some hard, some technical, some tactical. Its clear that, for now, technology itself is not enough to solve an organizational innovation problem -- strong management is also key!

1 comment:

pfd948 said...

These thoughts ar spot on. Experience in my firm is that the application of the innovation tools is the "middle stage" of the innovation process. A clear imperative from executive management, tie in to strategy, and clear communications are predecessor steps. Idea generation has to be followed with a thoughtful, but rapid review process--which depending on the purpose of the event may mean breaking ideas down into topical and implementation complexity tranches or winnowing large pools (several hundred) down a small number that proceed to business case and funding. Otherwise innovation tools are simply unaimed weapons.

Jon Bidwell
Chief Innovation Officer
Chubb

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