Innovation Leaders: New year – time to revisit your innovation eco-system! 10 things to think about

nurtureSimon Evans, InnovoFlow Ltd

Are you waiting for the next “innovation initiative “ before thinking about how you are going to approach innovation in 2014?  Could I make a suggestion?  Let’s start now!

In previous blogs (  we have explored the concept of the innovation eco-system (the collection of processes, people, strategies and architectures that define your innovation environment), and the role of the Agile Innovation Leader as the “gardener” that nurtures it.

Looking ahead to the end of winter, let’s look at 10 things you as an Agile  Innovation Leader could think about as part of a spring clean of your innovation environment!

1) Honestly appraise the status of your innovation approach.

  • Ask yourself if your innovation process is designed to exclude new ideas?
  • Consider when your organisation talks about risk, do they mean avoiding innovation that takes you into new areas and involves solving new problems?
  • If the answer to these questions is yes, you are probably locked into a Zombie Innovation Trap and need to develop your Agile Innovation Leadership – think about the following.

2)  Remind your key stakeholders of your role as an Agile Innovation Leader, and show them how you can help them be more successful.  What is your role title?  Chief Innovation Officer? Head of strategic innovation?  VP of disruptive Innovation?  Whatever it is, you are responsible for nurturing the innovation eco-system and ensuring its health.  You will need tons of cross-functional support to achieve this, so make sure your key stakeholders are supportive and understand how visualising the eco-system model can help them achieve success.

3) Re-examine the eco-system model you built last year (you did build a model last year right??).  Refresh your memory on what you said you would do.  What innovation processes have been successful?  What have not?  What processes were missing that you implemented anyway? Is the model still fit for purpose?

4)  Check your metrics. Assuming you have some measures for success in place, how much of the plan have you achieved?  What barriers prevented you from completing it?  What can you learn from this?  What successes can you wave in front of your management?

5) Carry out a barrier analysis – identify and mitigate the barriers that are blocking your progress.  Unleash the energy!

6)  Challenge yourself to move your organisation towards the embedding of innovation thinking in core business.  Identify 3 high impact target leaders who could assist in  driving this.  Spread the innovation culture – it will not happen by itself.  Be prepared to fight your corner!  Run some workshops and get people enthusiastic for the possibilities.

7)  Rework the eco-system model so it is fit for purpose this year.  Hold a facilitated workshop to brainstorm a new eco-system model fit for the next 12 months. Keep it fresh, keep it different, free your mind and maintain an agile approach.  Involve at least one new person in the discussion this time round.  Include the sceptics.  Successful innovation requires the input of a diverse range of thoughts and ideas.  Keep the mix of people moving

8)  Check Your Business Model. Is your business model in alignment with your innovation strategy or is it going to work at cross purposes and reduce the value of your new ideas?  Helping to innovate the business model is an important part of your role.  Without alignment you will throw away a lot of your ideas.

9) If you need some inspiration book an innovation leadership workshop and gain some external perspective and think about things from a different direction(e.g. a workshop from InnovoFlow Ltd.)

10)  Play “InnovoZone, the Innovation Game” with your stakeholders and clients.  Remind them of the eco-system model and the importance of driving the health of this to maximise the innovation velocity of your organisation.  Explore radical new ideas for innovation processes and see what difference they can make.  Have some fun and work out a way of improving our innovation capability.

Go and make a difference in 2014!


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