10 Tips to be an effective innovator
4. Discover Needs. Your innovative product or service requires a different behavior from your customer. They will change their behavior and/or internal processes (in BtB) only when your innovation solves a challenge or problem for them. That's why it's so important to identify customer dreams, needs and problems in the very early stages of your innovation process.
5. Use the Voice of the Customer. Once you've developed an innovative idea or prototype the question remains: is this a good idea or not? In your organization are a lot of persons resisting change. They will say no to anything. In my role as marketer in the food industry I learned to make use of the voice of the customer to get internal support. So test your ideas and prototypes in an early stage at customers. And use the favorable test result and enthusiast testimonials to get internal support.
photo credits: Flickr/ A. Mouraux
6. Be innovative. Act Conservative. Your organization is less innovative than you. That's why you have a game-changing role. Your effectiveness will be dependent on the internal support you can create among the non-innovators. That's why it's wise to be innovative and act conservative. Present your innovation not as something really extraordinary but as the normal next thing to do. Your chances to convince the non-innovators will increase.
7. Be naughty. Innovation doesn't stop at the first no. That's the moment it really starts for you. You have got to be clever to let your innovation project survive all kinds of dramatic moments like budget cuts. So be prepared to be naughty. When the innovation project is officially stopped due to a budget cut, continue for example your work under another project. Well, you know all the tricks.
8. Connect decision makers. Innovation ist Chefsache", say the Germans. That's why you should involve 'the boss' from the start. Not in a steering committee on a distance. Invite Top Managers as team members and take them with you on your innovation expedition. In this way the decision makers can get new insights themselves. And when they are part of the process they will support the end result.
9. Do it fast. On average an Innovation project takes 18 months for new services and 36 months for a new product. Be sure to speed it up. You know when there's a takeover, a strategy change or another crises your innovation project will be at risk. So focus and deliver as fast as you can.
10. Be open. There's always a lot of secrecy around innovation in a company. In practice with al this secrecy you alienate the rest of the organization with a lot of negative consequences. If you have a clear and structured process and inform everyone on the progress without telling big secrets you maintain support with the people you need later on to implement your innovations. So be open.
I have developed a structured innovation method for the front end of innovation, based on my own lessons learned. Feel free to download the innovation expedition map of the FORTH method.
One more thing. Even with my ten tips, innovation remains a struggle. Don't fight it. Accept it and you will increase your effectiveness immediately.
Gijs van Wulfen is Linkedin thought leader on innovation. He is founder of the FORTH innovation method and author and speaker on innovation. www.forth-innovation.com