Monday, September 12, 2011

Innovation - What's In It For Me?

Employees love success so start talking about it - all of the time. Above all, people ask 'what's in it for me?' The answer does not have to be money, think of it in terms of value where value can be one or more of:
  • recognition from the business or organisation
  • recognition from management and peers
  • monetary rewards
  • the opportunity to help others (and feel good)
  • creating a feeling of belonging
  • the opportunity to use infrequently used skills
  • the opportunity to collaborate and learn
  • the opportunity to bring something completely new into the world
It is difficult to address all of the above but your Innovation initiative can be designed to meet more than one. The number and type of benefits you cover will depend on your organisation and possibly national cultural issues.

Innovation, particularly Open Innovation is a social activity so networking activities such as using Social Media can be used to provide benefits and also to spread news of your success. Others will then be more inclined to join in and contribute. The more minds you connect, the greater the value you can generate for your business whether you seek new products and services or just process improvement.

Apart from asking themselves the question 'what's in it for me?' people will also wonder 'how painful will it be?' or 'how much effort will it take?'. All interactions involve a degree of friction or tension so let us go with this engineering metaphor and consider how we might 'oil the wheels' of our Innovation project or programme to ensure things run as smoothly as possible.

All of your contributors will take value from the project in their own way so you will need to ensure that you generate and distribute value in as many ways as possible. It is also good practice to ensure that the personal values of individuals are aligned with the values of the business.

People can also be aligned with your aims (hence pulling in the same direction) if you create a clear and compelling story about your Innovation challenge that will resonate with all of your participants. Such a story can also be used to set out goals, definition of success and rules of engagement which will help you to manage expectations. Do the groundwork first and success will follow!

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