Five Steps to Managing Innovation

New ideas require more than inspiration: they require a lot of advance planning to lay the groundwork. Here are five tips to get going.

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Innovation takes deliberate planning, leadership, accountability and a lot of teamwork. CIO spoke with Thomas Koulopoulos, founder of the innovation consultancy Delphi Group, who identified five important ways you can use to generate new ideas in your organization.

1. Develop clear directions on how to submit ideas and who they should be submitted to.

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2. Create a transparent means of ranking the ideas. Those who submit suggestions should see what other ideas are being submitted, and critiques should be based on sophisticated checklists to objectively evaluate merit.

3. Explain to people why their ideas were not accepted. Why exactly did the idea not work? How might the person or team approach the problem next time for better results? It’s especially important at this point to nurture motivation and to prevent discouragement.

4. Make sure all members feel they are important to the innovation process. Innovation is not the capability of a select few. Everyone—whether in a flashy or hardworking way—can contribute to the innovative process. Appreciate and openly praise those who contribute behind the scenes as well as those who typically get the attention. Innovation can come from all levels of an organization (at IBM, it even comes from the interns).

5. Tie financial rewards to the acceptance and implementation of ideas. Koulopoulos says one of his clients, a very large healthcare organization, awards profit-sharing to a successful idea’s owner and business unit.

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