10 Innovation Elements for Inside Out Innovation

I’m working with consulting clients and group project clients from my college classes to identify the important elements for innovating from the inside of your organization.  So far, we have codified a list of 10 elements that require examination and further research. I’m more of a “question” person than a “list” person, but here is a preliminary list to consider from our initial research:

  1. Tools – what tools does your organization provide for employees to innovate? This can be educational tools, like design thinking and innovation training, or enterprise tools like PM methodology or hack-a-thons.
  2. Time – so far, this mostly comes in the form of time to collaborate and ideate. Google has the famous structure where 10% of employee time is available to personal projects. Initially, this appears to be ways to carve out time from the reactive nature of most duties.
  3. Collaboration – how your organization fosters collaboration and who you put together, which leads to #4…
  4. Real Problems – how do you identifying and solve problems? Are you solving the real problem? Employees need to know their collaboration is making a difference in real problems.
  5. Fail safe opportunities – this is a critical one. It’s hard to employ ideation, prototyping and iteration to solve problems if failure is not acceptable. Here, it’s actions, not words.
  6. Incentives/feedback/communication – we’re receiving a lot of responses and stories about promising projects that simply “die without explanation…” What happens after ideas go up the food chain and what kind of feedback is provided to collaboration teams?
  7. PM structure – Innovation projects are notoriously hard to manage in strict PM methodologies. The creative and problem solving elements make scheduling, tracking and metrics challenging. Work with PMOs to create structure that works for problem solving projects.
  8. Exec buy-in/commitment – buy-in from upper management is critical. One great strategy is for executives to post their version of the top five problems or challenges facing the company and get response on innovative ways to solve these problems.
  9. Sharing platform/KM – how do people share knowledge and collaborate effectively using technology? This is especially important if your team is geographically dispersed.
  10. Trust – a critical component in every culture, collaboration, and organization. This comes at all levels, but especially middle management, where employees say their managers need to express that time away from normal duties as part of an innovation team is valued.

I’m interested in your organization and it’s innovation efforts around these elements. Comment or reach out to me if you have a story, opinion, or data on anything you see here. I’ll keep posting updated research information as we gain more understanding of these elements and identify new ones!