Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Live From the Front End of Innovation: Hutch Carpenter on the Four Pillars a Successful Innovation Program

Everyone loves the idea of innovating, but the hard part is actually making it happen (assuming you should). Unknown to many companies, innovation programs are often crippled right out of the gate because they are missing some of the key factors that promote successful innovation. Hype's Hutch Carpenter highlighted the four pillars that underlie a solid innovation program.

Pillar 1: Leadership

Carpenter started out by noting that many C-Suite executives have not clearly defined their vision for the future of the company, and have not fully considered the ways in which the firm will provide value in the future. Without those conceptions, an innovation program will unquestionably collapse sooner or later. But, the vision needs to be complemented with clear messaging internally about the mission of the endeavor so that employees are engaged and aligned.

Pillar 2: Awareness

The trick to creating engaging communication is three-fold: 1) Give the innovation its own "brand"; 2) Make sure that there is messaging throughout the company that raises awareness; 3) Celebrate/publicize all of the successes. The latter are some of the most important messages, because they excite people and get them to join the bandwagon.

Pillar 3: Engagement

Getting people involved means making sure that they can be heard and that their ideas will go somewhere. Solicit feedback from a wide range of people within company, and make sure that you are getting responses at every level. If people aren't willing to give feedback, they are not on board with the innovation program, and it will tank. The other key with engagement is giving definitive responses to feedback. If something works, make it go! If it doesn't, give a "no." But, either way, do not dither and do not let an idea sit.

Pillar 4: Governance

But, once ideas and engagement are plentiful, there remains a finite resource pie, and it's up to the C-Suite to divide it. The key is to ascertain which ideas and projects align well with the vision and value proposition of the company, and which are beyond its scope (note that this does mean rejecting some good ideas). It is likewise important to be clear about the criteria for selection and inclusion so that people know where to put their efforts.

As a last helpful tool, Carpenter cited a blog post that highlights some of the key behaviors that foster innovation. Granted, even with all of this advice, walking the talk is always difficult. But, at least this talk gives people some of the right words to say.


About the author
Orin C. Davis is a self-actualization engineer who enables people to do and be their best. His consulting focuses on making workplaces great places to work, and his research is on flow, creativity, hypnosis, and mentoring. In addition to being the principal investigator of the Quality of Life Laboratory, the Chief Science Officer of Self Spark, a science advisor at Happify, and an advisor at FutureIdeas. Dr. Davis is an adjunct professor of Psychology and Management at Baruch College and a lecturer in Critical and Creative Thinking at UMass Boston. He writes and speaks avidly about human capital, creativity and innovation, and positive psychology. (@DrOrinDavis)

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