startMany corporate innovation initiatives start by getting everybody excited about innovation and receiving a tonne of ideas. A fantastic beginning, demonstrating that your engagement strategy works and that people want to come on an innovation journey with you.

Unfortunately, that’s the easy part.

Humans have a desire to make things better and to effect our own little “dint in the universe”, and so if somebody wants help, seems sincere, has strong leadership backing, most oblige. If you treat people well, usually people will reciprocate in some way, trying to help where they can.

The hard part of innovation, and it’s part that really matters, is implementing ideas. It’s where the rubber hits the road; where the promise of expectation either becomes reality or stays as on the shelf gathering dust. Many innovation initiatives focus on ideation, but don’t take time to consider how the resulting ideas will be incubated and actually implemented. It’ll just happen, won’t it? In my experience, implementation is anything but easy and automatic.

Implementation is hard because innovation projects tend to be blurry and fuzzy when compared to standard projects. The path to success is not clearly defined; it’s almost as though something new is being attempted! Due to this fogginess around innovation activities, budget and resource is hard to secure when compared to business-as-usual projects that can be clearly planned and defined.

christopher-burns-360244With all these difficulties, it can be easy to forget that Implementation of ideas really matters to the people that had the ideas in the first place. It’s all very well telling people how hard implementation is, but you won’t get much grace. You asked for the ideas, you got them and unfortunately you are now charged with implementing them. This is the point at which an innovation program becomes either sustainable and grows or dies away like another one-off initiative.

Apart from the obvious reason that an implemented idea solves an identified problem, here are five further reasons why the crowd really needs their ideas implemented.

1. Demonstrates that there is an innovation plan
Innovation programs should be a strategic in nature, solving the key problems in the organisation. Implementing these ideas will begin to solve those key problems and improve performance, and will show the crowd that you know what you’re doing.

2. Builds trust and shows you listen
People have invested their time by giving ideas, and so you need to demonstrate that you are going to do something with the ideas, creating a currency of trust. Not every idea needs to be implemented, but makes sure progress can be demonstrated.

3. The ideas are making or saving money
Ideas are only valuable once they are implemented, in the same way that sales leads only become valuable with a purchase, implementing ideas will breed success and help to embed the innovation program in the company.

4. Shows their activity is making a difference
People want to know that they have made a difference while they have been working. Innovation brings an element of purpose and excitement, and hopefully, they are eager to solve the next thing that stands in the way of success. Give people their moment in the sun, and they will be grateful and appreciate the recognition.

5. There will be future activities where their solutions and ideas will be required
Innovation programs build on activities, and firm foundations need to be established to ensure longevity and survival. Having a portfolio of ideas that have been delivered will solidify the build and ensure that the next activity has a good chance of success. An organisational rhythm begins to be established, the culture starts to accept the innovation process of asking for ideas and making them happen.

Yes, you need those ideas implemented to make your innovation program successful, but your crowd also have some skin in the game. If you want some further help or advice in this area, please contact me using the details in the About Me Section.

Credit: Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash