So what prevents large companies from innovating better? For the past 8 months, I’ve worked as an intrapreneur within a large corporation and learnt a lot about the multiple obstacles that a big organisation faces and how to deal with them.
These are my practical tips and ground rules to be successful in your corporate innovation practices. Categorized from the top level to first-level managers.
- Top managers: Creating an innovative mindset is important within every level of the organisation, but especially for the key decision makers. It all starts with articulating a clear innovative strategic vision that teams can adapt their operations to. They should be willing to allocate resources and acknowledge the importance of proper customer discovery. Moreover, they should recognize that short-term financial performance will harm new product effort and develop and acknowledge new metrics that measure also long-term performance and potential growth.
- Middle managers: One of the most important base rules is to have someone within the innovation team that has authority within the organisation. This means they can easily access the right people within the organisation that are necessary to support the team. Especially if the innovation lab is situated outside of the organisation and you work with a team of external employees, this is compulsory. If this is not done correctly, this will disturb the execution speed and power of the team.
- First-level managers: Do stand-ups every day to keep track of what everyone in the team does by using a scrumboard. Asana or Trello are good tools for online scrumboards. Personally, I am a bigger fan of creating an offline scrumboard within the office (when you don’t work with people outside of the office). The benefit of an offline scrumboard is that it is always visible so it won’t take effort to have a look at it. If a task cannot be completed, it will be visibly moved as an impediment and problems won’t be perceived as non-existent.
It builds transparent workflows, creates open and frequent communication and keeps every member accountable for their own tasks. But also it enhances individual employee motivation by something really small: making visible and meaningful progress, as discussed in multiple research and article of Teresa Amabile.
- All: Communicate everything in a way so your grandma could understand it as well: ‘problem-solution fit’, ‘MVP, ‘validation’. These are all buzzwords that everyone uses and understands in different ways. Discuss clear definitions, set clear success criteria within a clear timeframe and stick to it. Also, be specific about the consequences of the results.