Are you tired of hearing “fill-in-the-blank will not succeed without top management support”? I am. Yes, it is a reality that any process in an enterprise will be more successful with senior leadership support. But, I am not going to rant about its necessity. Rather, I like to demonstrate that Innovation Development is one activity of the enterprise that is worthy of senior leadership attention.
It’s a compelling argument – what senior leader is against Innovation? None. However, many leaders of organizations are easily disappointed in their Innovation Development activities. They are often not very transparent, may take a long time to generate results, expend immediate resources for benefits sometime later, and have a real track record of hits and misses. The best way to get the support and attention of leadership is to build a great innovation development process and manage it well.
That said, when the leadership of the enterprise recognizes what they have or want in Innovation Development, then it’s time to step up to fill their role. Leaders play a crucial role in the inspiration of the process. This is not simply rah-rah kind of cheerleading, but that does not hurt one bit. Rather, leadership should simply show their interest and support. Make expectations of the process. Challenge the process to establish goals that support the goals of the enterprise. And especially require regular review of innovations in development. Nothing demonstrates the importance of the activity than to have the leadership of the enterprise expect results and require accountability. OK, I know you were waiting for it. Here it is. Senior Leaders, don’t forget to fund the process. Nothing works on a shoestring budget so if it is important, fund it accordingly. Then rely on management methods to ensure the resources are put to good use.
Management methods for Innovation Development are simply just good practices to set goals, establish priorities, balance objectives, and monitor the process. There is little that is inspirational or exciting about it – unless you don’t have any management methods. Important methods associated with successful management of innovation include an idea collection and selection method, good project management techniques, recruiting and managing teams of people, having a good environment for the project, and keeping track of key performance indicators for projects and the entire process.
The process needs to be supported by leadership and fundamental management methods. There is nothing special about this point. However, without inspired leadership and good management, don’t expect anything special from your innovation development process.