It’s a little under a year since I began my journey working in the world of tech and innovation. It’s been a steep learning curve, but one that I have loved. So, reflecting on last 12 months, here’s a snapshot of just some of the things I’ve learnt when it comes to approaching innovation projects.
Innovation is for everyone
Successful innovation lies not in shiny, new products and services, but in human interaction and relationships.
When embarking on an innovation project, it’s important to look beyond your own team and involve individuals from a cross-section of the organisation. Not only does this encourage people to speak up about their ideas, it can often uncover that another department (who you rarely speak to) is already seeking to explore solutions to the same problem.
It also pays to get out the office and meet with as many people as possible; valuable lessons can be learnt from those operating in roles different to your own and from across a range of industries.
The word ‘innovation’ is often associated with ground-breaking, mind-blowing developments, transforming the way a company operates, but there is a lot to be said for the small wins.
Focusing on huge projects that aim to tackle multiple problems can be overwhelming and almost certainly doomed to failure. Starting small and staying focused can get the innovation ball rolling and still deliver measurable impacts over the long term.
Skepticism is inevitable
You will be told no, and more than once.
From experience, there is often one individual championing innovation within an organisation, and typically, this individual will face countless barriers along the way. This usually stems from risk aversion and lack of understanding from senior managers. Educating and including key stakeholders from the start, be it internal or external, helps in reducing perceived risk, changing mindset and driving an idea forward.
This point comes with a caveat, the 'being realistic' part doesn’t apply to the early ideation stages of your innovation project. Many successful projects seemed unrealistic in the initial stages. How many people would have thought it unrealistic that brain surgeons could be trained using virtual reality for instance?
It is important though, to ensure you allow adequate time and resource to deliver on your goals. This means you can stick to the challenge in hand and not rush or lose sight of what it is you are trying to achieve.