Part 1: Starting Corporate Innovation Program

I am writing this in TWO main parts:

  1. PART 1: RECHARGE with 2 phases:
    1. First Wave: Rebuild Engagements
    2. Second Wave: Rethink Business Strategies
  2. PART 2: REWARD with 2 phases:
    1. First Wave: Reimagine Products & Services
    2. Second Wave: Relaunch Success

PART 1: RECHARGE

Purpose of Recharge is to enable the organization to be aware and find some clarity there’s something new coming for them. They need to contribute, be part of and develop this new initiatives together. In other words, their participation is crucial. Often in some discussion from my experiences, I found some of this innovation is only circumvented from a particular department or division. What makes matter worse if innovation is deemed “IT – information technology” department.

The top management should get consented from the Board for strategic innovation initiatives such as Corporate Innovation. The Board should support this and getting them early is going to make your job easier later on. Hiding behind buying tech gadgets and solutions will only make things difficult not too far ahead. Best to come clean with strong and strategic proposals.

First Wave: Rebuild Engagements

  1. Find a department / division that’s willing to engage the people across the organization – collaboration is paramount. Naturally, the HR is positioned to do so, however I have seen in many organizations, the HR tend to be operational-ONLY. They are not interested with people development beyond the usual training, training and training. If this is the case of your HR Head, you will have a lot problems in doing something disruptive and different. Visionary HR head knows they will reap the rewards very soon when they support and open up the floodgate of ideas from the workforce.
  2. Some HODs/HODivs from IT or Corporate Strategy or CEOs office, could be useful in driving Corporate Innovation. Keyword to look for is someone that is “willing to engage across the organization”. I have seen IT heads doing this. Word of caution, some IT heads are too technical and prefer to do remotely – avoid this too. We could help you find out as well using our assessment method – in case you are asking.
  3. Run a 1-2 months “Ideation / Ideathon / Ideanation / Hackathon / Idea Tournament” program – where you collect ideas across the company. You can either open in up to “any ideas” or you can zoom in to few areas such as “People, Process, Product, Services, Technology etc..”. Avoid too much complicated jargon, key is to get as much participation as possible and the soonest possible.
  4. You can ask the workforce to send ideas via email, google form, whatsapp, ideabox or idea management platform (we got this covered).
  5. Ideas start pouring in and you will need to sort them. Here is where you need cross departments committee to help sorting. Again, find people that are willing during this first round. With idea management platform, you will find this sorted in matter of hours instead of days!
  6. Once ideas are sorted, you can rank those ideas and select top 30 ideas (for example) to go to deep dive innovation skills program or innovation lab and tap into all the interesting ideas.
  7. Make sure you give recognition to everyone (yes everyone) that contributed to the ideas pool. Not that difficult to do, automate a simple certification or organize a get together ideators with the top bosses.
  8. Your innovation lab could be a 3-5 days immersive design thinking workshop with emphasis on building empathy, business models and users jobs to be done.
  9. Forget about the technology or ROI or bottomlines or profit rates or cost of developing for now. Let the ideas bloom and let them pitch it as it is.
  10. Evaluate all ideas in a simple pitching competition, let the ideators find their own team members internally to grow those ideas. The management team could become the ideas judge or evaluator to get a sneak peek of what’s available from their workforce. Go there with an open mind.

Ok, now you completed the Part 1: Recharge: First Phase (Rebuild Engagements). Reach out to me for clarification. Meanwhile, I’ll be writing the Part 1 Second Wave: Rethink Business Strategies.

Brickbats please email to donkhairul@gmail.com

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Reasons Why You Should Start Corporate Innovation Program

You probably have heard about Innovation and you want to do something about it for your organization. It is like a puzzle that needs solving, but the think is which one you should start first? Here could be the reasons compiled why you want a piece of the action on Innovation:

  1. There are so many new technology arounds but you have no clue how to take advantage of all these for your organization eg Industry Revolution, 4IR, Digital etc..What’s all these tech stuffs?
  2. Around 40% or more of your workforce are 40 years old and below. This is consider fairly young workforce. Most organizations in Malaysia for example has around 50-70% workforce of 40 years old and below. How to tap this huge energy reserves?
  3. There’s so much ideas being presented to you and your management teams, but it is who is looking after them? What is the outcomes or results? Why there seems to be nothing implemented? Who is doing the monitoring?
  4. You and your management team would like to find out new opportunities for business growth. Maybe there’s something?
  5. The internal processes seem overwhelmed with tapes after tapes and you wanted it change for so long, but why the problem still persisted?
  6. People morale is getting lower by the day with all other concerns about the economy, jobs security and personal finances. How to rejuvenate and recharge?
  7. You have some budget (approved by the Board) to work on innovation programs, where to start? (Innovation program budget starts from $50k-$100k)
  8. The training done by the human resource seems to have very little impact because they said the organizational change should be addressed at the same time.
  9. Your management team (kitchen cabinet) is becoming more picky, testy and struggle to communicate cohesively and you don’t know who is the dark horse anymore. Put your foot down?
  10. The entire workforce especially the operations, middle managers and customers facing staffs said, “Our customers complaints has increased and they have switched to our competitors.” Shall you wait any longer?

The above listings are popular reasons I personally have observed and listened during my engagements with our clients. What’s yours? I’d love to compile several more to provide greater awareness that innovation program is a strategic decision.

Check out my next 2 parts article “How Start a Corporate Innovation Program?”

Brickbats please email to donkhairul@gmail.com

Case Study: Co-creation in Developing Innovation Culture

“Tough”. That was my reply to a client.

It is common in many organizations to have multi-generational challenge. Today’s speed of change force everyone to move out from their comfort zones. Here I wish to share a short case study from an organization uses co-creation as a facilitative tool in building Innovation Culture.

PROBLEM

The senior managers felt the younger executives didn’t put enough effort to get things done more effectively. There was a perception that the younger executives lack innovation and creativity skills during execution with the clients. Because of that there has been delays in clients delivery and the Board has recommended action to be taken to remedy this situation. The clients impacted is seeking explanation and it may cause financial compensation if it is not resolved.

The Human Resource Division (HRD) has been tasked to come up with action plan and fix this amicably and in lightning speed.

DIRECTION

The HRD hatched a plan that the younger executives need training on innovation and creative problem solving. After all it has been years they did not have any development on these skills.

After our discussion, we think training programs will not be effective, yet. We helped devise three key strategies to approach the Problem. There are:

  1. Both parties need to have a mutual session to air grievances.
  2. Generate ideas to make it work, no escape.
  3. Use the company shared values as our guiding principles. Nothing else.

We convinced our client to run ideation labs to together with the senior managers and young executives to build scaffolding to achieve those objectives. To our surprise, the labs generated hundreds of ideas and close to 50% ideas generated are something they could do together. They are still bonded when we brought in the shared values discussion. Great!

FIVE IDEAS TO BE IMPLEMENTED

  1. The champions of culture are anyone from the organization. From non-executive to senior leaders. It used to be the champions were only Heads and senior leaders.
  2. The champions role are rotated and on 6 months role appointment. As the attendance requirement as champion is at least 80%, the role shouldn’t be a burden to anyone. Rotation allows others to participate and be inspired.
  3. Recognition of ANY contribution is direct from CEO. Recognition is in certificate of contribution signed by the CEO and little get together quarterly.
  4. Internal managers conference where best practices in the company are shared. What works in other company might not work in your company. Sharing them build trust and stronger cadreship.
  5. Open innovation program for everyone to contribute ideas from all levels. Trending internal ideas will be discussed together with strategic business focus.

Brickbats please email to donkhairul@gmail.com