A 100-day plan for innovation

Successful organizations always have one eye on current operations and one eye on the future. Anticipating your customer's needs and developing a strategy to get there is what separates the quick from the dead.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now” – Alan Lakein

Successful organizations always have one eye on current operations and one eye on the future. Anticipating your customer’s needs and developing a strategy to get there is what separates the quick from the dead.

Many organizations are already looking ahead to 2010. They are collecting ideas and requests for projects to run, products to develop, marketing strategies to design and a myriad of other growth-focused activities. Some are even developing plans around making idea and innovation management a formal business process within their organizations…but how do you get started? By using the simple 100 Day Plan format and “chunking” the work required into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Day 1 through 25

  • Review past successes and failures in attempts to manage ideas and innovation within the organization and learn the lessons they teach so mistakes aren’t repeated.
  • Identify and enlist a core group of innovators, idea practitioners, facilitators, trainers, etc. to dedicate full time to the initiative (center of excellence).
  • Start a marketing/communicaticon campaign that promotes your initiative and tells your story.
  • Identify and enlist a broader group of like-minded “believers” in the initiative (community of practice).
  • Design a high-level idea management workflow and innovation management framework.
  • Secure commitments from executive/senior leadership.

Day 26 through 50

  • Design the processes, templates, tools, techniques, training materials and other documented guidance material.
  • Execute training programs on basic creative problem solving, problem identification, advanced innovation concepts, executive-level, etc.
  • Establish an idea campaign pilot program, run the pilot, gather data/feedback and adjust accordingly.
  • Continue execution of the marketing/communication program.

Day 51 through 75

  • Establish metrics and data collection/reporting mechanisms; gather “baseline” measurements.
  • Communicate results of pilot program and lessons learned.
  • Develop roadmap of continuing operations beyond the 100 day target for funding and additional resources (people, time, space, etc.).
  • Develop responses and plans to address common concerns, challenges, dissent and outright threats to your initiative.
  • Continue execution of the marketing/communication program (especially targeted at executive leadership).

Day 76 through 100

  • Establish innovation-related goals in employee performance materials and communicate.
  • Formalize the function/authority of the innovation center of excellence.
  • Plan the innovation program/project portfolio mix between “safe” and “risky.”
  • Conduct problem identification sessions to generate list of targeted idea campaigns.
  • Establish goals/targets for innovation performance.
  • Begin collecting and tracking metrics against goals/targets.
  • Begin execution of roadmap plan.

This is a pretty aggressive timeline of events for the design, assembly and execution of an innovation management program, but it can be done. You’ll need executive/senior leadership support and dedicated resources, but it can be done. You’ll need to defend your work from the status quo and protect fragile ideas from the “corporate antibodies,” but it can be done.

Remember…a plan started is a plan half-done!

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