Innovation Management Blog

Scaling Innovation Management Software

Scaling your innovation efforts

We've written about how Tata Consulting Services and SAP work with innovation management here, with a nice video for you to watch too. But it was another post today, from The Future Shapers, that inspired this post.

And a common thread you'll find in both of those posts is that there must be a real desire to work with innovation within the organisation and as the title suggests, scaling innovation.

First, you've got to define what scaling innovation means. Is it engagement or the number of people that you work with, is it innovation challenges, workshops or crowdsourcing or is it the value it creates? I believe you can pick one or all of them (you should certainly track all).

There are also other metrics you can use, but like it says on our homepage, outperforming organisations measure returns, so lets use that one for the sake of this post.

Scaling innovation activities

First things first, if you're going to scale your innovation efforts, you need innovation management software. You're not going to scale if you're using Excel and Powerpoint. When that is in place you can begin.

And scaling is often linked to startups and it's not a bad thing to start acting like a startup. By that I mean, if you have 2,000 employees or even 60,000, engage with a small team of say 20 to 60. By all means do something for everyone to begin with and we've written about employee engagement and how to show you're serious here, but to scale your innovation program, start with a number that makes year two possible and year one realistic.

It's also worth pointing out that in your first year, you're probably not going to run that many events. But as each year passes you'll run more and more.

And this is where your platform comes in, because if you can run three to five events in the first year and drive outcomes and projections, reward your employees that are helping you become more innovative, that culture of listening and innovating will grow and your employees will want to be part of it.

And you'll be tracking their skills and expertise, you'll be collecting insights and tracking trends. You'll know what you have to do year two for them, but importantly also, the business. By year five the platform is defining the type of events and outcomes you can expect.

I talk about the platform a lot, I know. But if you put all the information in the right way, it makes it easy for you to get the information out. And as the maturity of your program grows, so will your ability to expand your program and run more events and create more innovative outcomes.

At large companies, incremental change may be one of the best ways to achieve a radical transformation

The above quote was made by Andrew Hill from the Financial Times. What I think he means by this is not only do you have to start small, but it's a catalyst to a different way of working and the outcomes you can expect. In this way, continuously improving what you do and how you work by listening to your employees, instills a trust and openness that shows them you are serious, but also that they're not wasting their time. And employees care.

So, you've shown desire and you've identified opportunities. By incrementally getting better, you can also track outcomes. Did it reduce the cost or help you avoid a cost or did it create new or increased revenues? You'll get results in your first year, but don't expect miracles.

And in your second year, after engaging with 300 people in your first year, engage with three times that amount by running more events. Work with incremental innovation, but also disruption in your second year. By the third year, you'll be working with transformational innovation and using the data and insights you collected in the first year as the vehicle for knowing where you can transform and who can help you do it.

And a disclaimer on scaling, you see scale means different things for different people. But think of it this way; if you employ 20,000 people and you can track €250,000 in outcomes in your first year and by year six you're tracking outcomes of €20,000,000, I think a lot of people would say you successfully scaled your innovation program. Although some will say you just grew it.

Both could be right, but I like the sound of scale.

Maybe I should have just posted an image?

Scaling your innovation efforts with innovation management software

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