You’ve had an idea that could transform your organization. You’ve done your homework, developed an innovation plan to guide your efforts, obtained buy-in from key stakeholders and built a team to develop and implement your idea.
Yet there are many potential obstacles to the implementation of your idea. For example, key team members might get promoted, move to a different department or leave your organization during the execution of your planned innovation. And as they leave, they take the intimate knowledge of your project with them.
That’s why the successful execution of any innovation plan relies on a central source of truth. Any organization interested in identifying and executing new ideas needs a central system of institutional memory where they can document experimentation, decision-making, what challenges were encountered and how they were overcome. Not only does this preserve the knowledge associated with a given project, it also has major implications for how your entire organization operates.
A common inefficiency in larger organizations is duplication; multiple teams are often working on the same problem in parallel, but aren’t communicating with one another or aren’t even aware of the other teams’ work.
Not only does this translate to wasted work, it also means that whatever insights one team has on a given problem remain inaccessible to the other. A central source of truth can help mitigate these inefficiencies.
In addition to supporting more efficient work, a central source of truth also enables greater collaboration between these disparate teams. If a team in marketing is working on the same problem as a team in sales, they can collaborate across this single system to reach a solution that works best for both of them, rather than two solutions that work well for marketing but not sales, vice versa or not at all! In turn, this enables the creation of best practices.
Without a central system to document activities carried out during the execution of an innovation plan, each separate team comes to their own conclusions regarding problems that may actually span across the entire organization. In these instances, the solutions they implement may work well enough for their specific purposes, but they may not actually solve for the real problem.
With a central source of truth, information on how teams went about their work can be stored, studied, analyzed and improved upon whenever a given issue or similar issue appears again. Furthermore, a single source of truth enables analysis and improvement of the process to drive new solutions within the organization.
There are several software solutions available that can serve as a central system for your organization’s innovations. We've identified the following important characteristics to keep in mind.
Transparency is key. Generating buy-in is a crucial aspect of implementing any new idea in an organization, and team members aren’t going to feel that their voice is being heard if they can’t see where their feedback is going, how other team members have responded and the way in which their ideas evolve. One of the common complaints we hear from employees is that they don't know what's happening with a project they participated on or why certain decisions were made.
At the same time, any system that will serve as a common basis for your organization’s innovation plan will need to encourage collaboration. It’s important to remember that while not everybody in an organization is going to come up with a revolutionary new idea, everybody is capable of informing that idea. A transparent and collaborative platform will give those idea generators a place to express themselves and to capture their valuable input.
The system should also be easy to use — after all, your innovation plan’s central system is only going to be useful if team members use it. It should look good, work well on mobile and upload documents and reference materials from multiple sources. Finally, the system should automatically document user activity and other data for later analysis and to inform decision making.
Crucially, any such system should be set up with the full commitment of leadership and the larger organization. If this central system for your innovation plan is never used or taken seriously, it’s the same as though it were never implemented in the first place. With leadership buy-in and action, the rest of the organization will take notice, feel their voices heard and start thinking earnestly and purposefully about the best way to carry out your innovation plan.
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