Where are the holes in your Innovation Program?

Innovation Program Holes

Implementing new approaches and ideas is arguably the hardest part of innovation but is of course the crucial component to improving your organization.              

Trae Tessmann|
October 18, 2017

No one said innovation would be easy.


Innovation is all about finding ways to get a bigger bang for your operational buck, and if your innovation program is lacking direction or isolated from different areas of your organization, you could be missing huge opportunities to improve.


So which pieces of your innovation program or life-cycle are weak or missing?





Every organization wants to innovate, but many of those who are taking concrete steps towards building a stronger innovation program are missing an obvious but exceedingly crucial first step.


They just want to do things “better”, but aren’t identifying where, how, and when. In other words, they aren’t setting actionable and achievable goals, instead jumping from whatever new idea or concept they read, heard, or learned about last week.


Your innovation program needs direction. You can’t go into it blindly. Set goals, both big and small. From improving a product to saving time in an operation, identify what you want to accomplish, how long you have to get it done, and what justifies a success.





The “idea” is the fuel of innovation. From a new product or service to method or means of production, fresh approaches and feedback help move the organization forward. But where are yours coming from? The C-Suite? Consultants? R&D? Where else can you look?


The front-lines – AKA your employees. They manage your products and operations every day, and are in possession of insights and experiences that can’t be matched by top management or outside parties.


Engage them for their insights or ideas through targeted challenges or open forums. While suggestion boxes and brainstorming meetings are a great starting point, tools like idea management software can be a game-changer for collecting, evaluating, and implementing their innovative ideas.





Not every new idea is a winner, and it’s up to you and your team to decide which ones should move forward. Depending on how many ideas you’ve got coming in, this could be a quick or exhaustive process but is important nonetheless.


Proper vetting of ideas is of course important, but so too is getting different perspectives during the review process as well. Involve different levels of management and departments to hear a deeper assortment of opinions and projections for your future projects.


It doesn’t hurt to give your front-line employees an inside-look into your innovation program and review process as well (or involve them in the reviews too). To boost employee engagement, let them know who does the reviews, how long it usually takes, and provide updates on their ideas each step of the way to build trust and improve communication.





Have a huge list of ideas or improvements but aren’t making any moves to put them to work? Even the greatest ideas are worthless if you aren’t taking action on them.


Inaction is bad enough, but you’re not just missing out on the benefits of those new ideas or approaches. You’re also killing the motivation of your employees to share their ideas and feedback if nothing is happening with them.


Implementing new approaches and ideas is arguably the hardest part of innovation (when you consider the resources, time, and risk associated) but is of course the crucial component to improving your operations, product, or organization. You need an implementation plan.





The goal of investing time, energy, and resources into innovation is all about realizing a strong ROI, and that requires you track your progress every step of the way.


Tracking your progress and results helps ensure you’re moving in the right direction with your projects, and when they come to fruition, that you’re fully able to determine their success. While not every project will be a winner, data will help push the odds in your favor.


If you’ve mastered tracking your results but not getting the return you need, it may be time to change the types of projects you’re working on or ideas you’re looking for. Sticking to certain type of projects or things because “it’s how you’ve always done them” is the death-knell of innovation.



So where is your innovation program slacking? And what are you going to do to improve it?


Is it just new ideas, or different sources for those ideas? Better project management and data collection? Or doing a better job of moving those ideas from thoughts to scoped, developed, implemented products and procedures?


Take a look at your innovation program, and make the changes necessary to keep your organization moving in the right direction.


About Trae Tessmann

Co-founder of Ideawake

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