Innovation Is Management as Much as It Is Creativity

Innovation is management as much as it is creativity. It is hard work. Much of that work is stakeholder management.

Intrapreneurs and innovators should seek out and learn from those who have tried before and failed. They can help identify corporate pitfalls, difficult or supportive stakeholders, and point you to early adopters with whom you can work. Often, there will be many innovation projects dispersed throughout the organization. It’s important to connect with the people running these initiative to learn about them. Discover why they were created, their goals, and their challenges.

To help transform the business, start with early adopters. Build a case based on success stories, and then you have the proof you need to reach the early majority. Then, you can take your story to the leadership team and earn their support for real change.

Once the innovation team has matured enough to work with the late majority, it is time to draft a roadmap. However, the roadmap should be designed with enough flexibility to compensate for the inevitable change that comes from contact with the business divisions. Begin with defining success, and identify the keystones that will need to be met. Then create a dashboard to track progress against the milestones.

Organizations will need coaching and support to maintain and drive innovation; a playbook can help by providing clear, visual guidelines that define the right things to do and when to do them.

Defining strategic guidance for innovation requires engaging with leadership to assess current products, capabilities, and business models; evaluate the business environment, including trends and emerging technologies; identify key gaps; and define how to use innovation to respond.