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Everybody loves innovation these days. Any single company that respects itself mention innovation as one of its core values and strives to be even more innovative.

In this post I will shortly describe few innovation management programs that might be handy if you are looking for new ways to foster innovation in your organization.

Passive Program: A great program if you are not a big innovation fan. You don’t really have to do much and every once and a while an employee will bug you with a new idea. With little effort you will be able to dismiss most ideas. The ones that stick might be good ones and with a bit of luck you will be able to execute on them and drive some value.

It’s not a much recommended program even though many still practice it.

Ad-Hoc Program: A great program for meeting the innovation objectives that was forced upon you by your management. All you need to do is to set a reminder in the calendar toward the end of the quarter to launch an idea campaign. With a small budget you can ask someone from marketing to draft a good announcing email, secure tiny budget for fancy dinner as an award and within a few days you will get a bunch of ideas back to your inbox. Once you and your committee will sit down to evaluate the ideas you will find out that many of them are off, some are semi cooked and you have no bandwidth or motivation to follow up on the once that might be good.

It’s better than being passive, but don’t expect much innovation from such a program.

And now for the serious programs:

Accelerator Program: A great program to drive focused results in organization that encourage intrapreneurship among its capable employees.

Similar to startup accelerators the program will identify a set of " ideas" around a predefined domain (e.g. product, service, LoB) and support the idea owners thru the process of idea-to-solution by providing them mentorship, access to information, access to experts, funding and alike.

Key characteristics of the accelerator program:

  • Open application process: Anyone can apply
  • Focus on small teams not individuals to increase likelihood of success
  • Funding –provision funding to the idea owners to release them from their daily work and enable them to focus on the development of the solution
  • Timeboxed – Each acceleration program will focus the teams to complete the tasks in short time cycles.
  • Cohorts or "classes" of teams working on the same domain rather than one team to enable collaboration and also to split the eggs between the baskets.

The accelerator program requires some investment but it has very high potential to provide valuable solutions that can drive the organization future success.

Thought Leadership Program: A great program for organizations that are interested in tangible results as well as in embedding innovation culture.

Do you remember Top-Gun movie? The idea here is similar. Gather the finest innovative employees from your organization (across all roles and seniority levels) upskill them by delivering specialized training and task them with most strategic challenges.

Program participants maintain their current roles and responsibilities but commit to “serve” couple of weeks a year for program activities.

Key characteristics of the Thought Leadership program:

  • Select the best few
  • Provide them with the best training
  • Allow them to interact and share experience
  • Engage them in strategic challenges
  • Keep them in their original teams to foster excellence

The Thought Leadership Programs will separate the innovative organizations from the rest. It will drive both employee engagement as well external innovative branding.

Combination Program: Executing only Accelerator Program or Thought Leadership Program by themselves will get you quite busy. But, if you wish to go the extra mile it is recommended to combine them or even just to add the Ad-Hoc program to one of them. While the add-hoc program has low value by itself, when you combine it with a greater plan it makes much better sense.

If you are interested in driving innovation in your organization and plan to attend Sapphire do try to get yourself invited to the “Spark Innovation DNA” special interest activity. I’ve been told that the SIA organizer is following this post and if you will post your contact information in the comments you might receive an invite. Good luck!

SAPPHIRE: Special Interest Activity "Spark Innovation DNA"

  • Time: Tuesday, June 03rd, from 06:00 to 08:00 am ET – Breakfast event
  • Location: Hilton Orlando, Room LAKE LUCERNE; 6001 Destination Parkway Orlando, FL USA 32819
  • Abstract:

Excellence in innovation management is more essential than ever. Increasingly sophisticated needs, the accelerating pace of global technology, rising complexity, shortening lifecycles, industry convergence -  these are just a few forces shaping innovation. In a growing number of interactions and projects, we are facing those customers that are trying to make sure innovation becomes a topic for every employee, and not just as traditionally, the R&D Departments. To master these forces, firms are increasingly implementing approaches to innovation. However, these are disciplines that are based on learning and experience - These are not textbook disciplines. To that end we offer to customers the possibility during a session to discuss how to accelerate innovation DNA in their organization with their peers.

  • Objective: 40 participants to start conversation about innovation
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