We offer innovation management technology, so we’ll be honest, it’s tough to admit the fact that the innovation management initiatives at some companies are DOA or flat line over time. This unfortunate outcome is often the result of several common problems that can be avoided with the right approach by company leaders. Let’s have a look at some of the most common innovation management killers and what can be done to stop them.
1- Employees don’t submit enough ideas into the innovation management system
It can be frustrating to invest in, and deploy, technology to manage employee ideas, only to be met with silence. Often leaders make the mistaken assumption that this means employees don’t have any ideas for improvement. This is usually far from true. What it more often signals is that employees don’t know what types of improvement the management team is looking for, or that they fear retaliation for pointing out problems in processes or products.
The most effective solution for this problem is to work closely with front line employees to identify a few simple opportunities for improvement that can be acted upon quickly and serve as an example of how the innovation management system is designed to be used. Employees who successfully help in these pilot improvements should be openly acknowledged and rewarded. It is one thing to say that employee suggestions are welcome, it is another to prove it to be so.
2 - The project simply loses steam after a while
It is easy to get people excited about almost anything that is new, but it is far more difficult to institutionalize a business methodology so that it maintains momentum over the long run. Doing so requires leaders to frequently reinforce their commitment to the approach and to the employees who embrace it. For innovation management technology, this includes a consistent effort to recognize the resulting achievements. It is also useful to tie employee performance evaluations to participation in improvement in a positive, not punitive manner.
3 - Employees become discouraged by ideas that are never implemented
If you view your innovation management system as a modern suggestion box, where employee ideas go to die, don’t bother. In fact, ignoring employees who make suggestions can actually hurt employee engagement, leading to ho-hum effort and increased turnover.
Instead, make a commitment that all relevant ideas will at least receive consideration. Communicate openly and frequently about why certian ideas are selected for implementation while others are not. Signal support by setting a budget to act on ideas that require investment. Certainly not every idea will be worth implementing, but every employee is worth gratitude and due reflection.
4 - The solution is too complicated or disconnected from typical workflow
Your innovation management system should make life easier for your team, not more convoluted. This can be achieved by selecting a system with an easy-to-use interface that actually adds value to the process of implementing opportunities for improvement. It should also contain alerts and notifications that integrate with tools employees already use, such as email, to make certain that innovation efforts are a natural extension of everyday work. The solution should support and simplify cross-functional collaboration and provide a clean, clear look into improvement efforts across the organization.
Some innovation management solution implementations do fail. However, many have been instrumental to the success and operational excellence of companies of all types and sizes. Giving careful thought to these common pitfalls can help leaders avoid the mistakes of others and get on the path to a more cohesive, effective, and profitable culture of continuous improvement.