What Do the Best Innovation Programs Have in Common?

An in-house innovation program is becoming a common fixture in the most competitive organizations. However, in a recessed economy, these research & development programs can sometimes get eliminated, because they struggle to prove or articulate value.

Every year, the Innovation Management Awards invite innovation teams to share their best practices for their internal innovation programs: best practices about how to engage the workplace in the innovation process, how to refine and select the best ideas, and how to identify and prototype meaningful innovations.

The 2016 winners shared a few key qualities that help define a successful innovation management program:

A great communications strategy. Innovators have the ability to communicate ideas effectively and innovation teams need to be able to facilitate communication and collaboration. Which means large-scale innovation programs need to have a great communications strategy in order to leverage the full value of employee engagement.

Talented moderators. Innovation moderators encourage feedback and drive the discussion amongst ideators. Good innovation teams will train moderators on how to become mentors and stimulate good discussion.

Ongoing engagement. Get people involved throughout the innovation process – get idea for how to improve, let people volunteer to be a part of implementation teams and test assumptions. Engaging your workforce doesn’t have to end at the ideation stage.

A sense of urgency. It turns out that some of the most successful campaigns have deadlines for ideation. Sometimes these boundaries help make people more creative and get them to submit their thoughts where they otherwise would have put it off forever.

The ability to share successes. Taking a victory lap helps build faith in innovation programs and keeps them around for a long time. When the team has success, celebrate it. When the team has a failure, celebrate that too. Because you learned something.

Measurable outcomes. Part of telling the story of your successes is to have not just outcomes, but to be able to demonstrate their value. How much time did you save?

How much revenue did you create? Great innovation programs have answers to these questions.

To learn more from the Innovation Management Awards winners, download this complimentary infographic.

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

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