Innovation in Times of Crisis

I recently had the pleasure to speak at the online innovation summit organized by RGI, where I shared my thoughts on ‘innovation in times of crisis’. Here are the summary points — and the actual deck embedded in the following.

Why invest in innovation during times of crisis?

1. To increase your opportunity discovery bandwidth.

The world is changing rapidly and the ability to spot high-potential innovation opportunities, early enough, becomes a survival trait for businesses.

2. To improve the ‘state of mind’ of your company.

Innovation can strengthen the connection among employees and teams, it can fix the morale, the shared attitude.

How to empower innovation in times of crisis?

1. Make it more ‘available’

Provide all the innovation resources via digital means; make your innovation channel always-on.

2. Make it more ‘flexible’

Remove bureaucracies; Make your innovation process simpler, faster, and asynchronous.

3. Ensure it is ‘purposeful’

Connect innovation with the purpose of your organization; innovate with a purpose.

4. Increase its ‘bandwidth’

Enable the company to spot and evaluate more innovation opportunities, faster.

But how to drive the above improvements?

1. Build a digital home for all innovation-related resources: The Innovation Portal.

1. Present the Innovation Context & Calendar

Your purpose, big problems, and ideas along with a timeline for your innovation activities and plans.

2. Provide a digital toolkit for innovation

Tools, templates, and services that empower people to innovate with digital means — while working remotely.

3. Diffuse Innovation Knowledge

Training material, innovation stories, and a ‘Gateway’ to the ‘community of innovators

4. Provide Access to Innovation Assets

A demo space for innovation artifacts — where people can discover innovation deliverables — prototypes, designs, case studies, experiments.

2. Emphasize the message: Innovation is the means to achieve a bold purpose.

1. Review your purpose

Ensure that your purpose is still relevant; re-frame it as needed to reflect the new order of things.

2. Communicate the purpose

Explain how innovation can help to better serve this purpose.

3. Set the Innovation Agenda

Create the Corporate Innovation Agenda — the focus areas for innovation and how they are linked to the organizational purpose; along with problems worth-solving and high-potential ideas waiting for further exploration.

3. Establish a stream of problems worth solving

1. Share the message: Innovation is not (only) about ideas

Invite people to innovate, also by submitting problem statements; Add ‘problem submission’ to the innovation gamification scheme

2. Handle ‘Problems’ as ‘innovation assets’

Regularly evaluate and prioritize problems — based on their importance and relevance to your strategy.

3. Establish a Backlog of Problems

Make the problem backlog visible via the Innovation Portal — an ongoing ‘call to innovate’ where people can discover important, prioritized problems that need great solutions.

4. Establish an always-on ideas channel

1. Make Idea Submission ‘always-on, accessible by all’

Make your ideation process available to all, at any time: Encourage people to share any idea, in or out of context. Ensure there is a prompt and meaningful response.

2. Make it Self-Service

Introduce a simple process > submit & discover ideas through the Innovation Portal. Initiate ‘Lightweight Hackathons’ and ideation sessions.

3. A model for ideas

Provide a template for ideas: Help people articulate their ideas, or product concepts and features. Provide ideation event templates: Standardize the ‘idea generation events’- e.g. brainstorming. Help people organize ideation events remotely, using digital means.

5. Establish an ‘always-on opportunity discovery panel’: spot more high-potential ideas, faster.

1. Perform regular reviews — evaluate problems and ideas

Establish a regular review process: a panel with the right experts, to evaluate and prioritize problems and ideas; based on objective criteria.

2. Setup an action plan

A high-potential idea; then what? The team must be able to trigger the right process and forward ideas to the right teams/ stakeholders to take action, immediately.

3. Educate your innovators

Adopt an educational attitude: Provide constructive feedback to innovators; act as innovation mentors.

Innovation in times of crisis: establishing a digital innovation space to empower people to ‘innovate from anywhere’

The complete deck is available to download — and also embedded below.

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