Photo by Trevor Cole
Every company approaches innovation in their own way. Some weave it into their corporate culture, keeping it top of mind every day. Others work in springs, carving out specific days and times to devote to brainstorming and planning innovation project. Regardless of your approach, innovation projects are an important part of maintaining your relevance, competitive edge, and ultimately, staying in business.
While almost all corporations have some kind of innovation project, not all create a wave of success that can be ridden into the next decade, year or even the next quarter. Many of these fail to succeed at all. When large teams of people are required to collaborate on a corporate sized project, there are a number of different things that can go wrong. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most common reasons why these projects fail and how they can be resolved before the start of the next team effort.
Innovation or not, this is one of the top reasons that any project fails. Not having a clearly defined purpose or goal for a project can cause major derailments in terms of time, effort and emotions. If you do not clearly define these important details from the start of the project, your participants will likely end up working in different directions, rather than towards a common goal.
Draft a one pager for your project. On this sheet, clearly and succinctly define the type of project, the reason for the project, and the goal for the outcome of the project. Include images, or diagrams to help edify your participants and you have taken an important step towards ensuring the success of your innovation project before it has even started.
Often we see that projects do not have a stage gate, or funnel comprising of the different phases of a project. When a plan is not clearly defined, the project will lack the necessary organization to move forward. Team members get stuck, cycling through a stage over and over again. Without clearly defined gates, there is no filter to sort out the good ideas and move them forward to stages where they can be implemented. You risk never getting to an implementation phase, or trying to implement too many ideas.
Consider instituting a plan with different phases such as: 1. Needs Phase, 2. Solutions Phase, 3. Prototypes Phase and 4. Products Phase. This will allow you to stay organized, keep team members on the same phase of the project, ensuring that you all work together with very focused efforts and energy.
Cumbersome Innovation Software, or complex policies and procedures can require additional training, or an investment of time and energy before the project can even begin. Your team members are already busy with their daily jobs and responsibilities, and now you are adding on top of those. This is putting a damper on the project before the kickoff and it will greatly impact the enthusiasm that team members have for the project, and the energy that they will contribute to it.
Pick a simple process, or an easy to use innovation tool, like Svava’s idea platform, to make contributing to this project as easy and enjoyable as possible. When you respect your team members schedules, and technical acumen, they are much more likely to contribute - which is key to the success of the project.
When there is a lack of a solid time frame, the project becomes easy for individual team member to put off…indefinitely. Their intentions might be good - to get to more pressing work and projects before the innovation project, but often work continues to come in and the project ends up suffering because it becomes a secondary or even tertiary priority.
By putting a time frame on the project, you help your team members to plan and work their contribution to the innovation project into their schedule. Increase the chances of success for your project by putting a manageable timeframe in place.
Innovation projects often require your team members to submit ideas, but many do not put any framework in place for collaboration and curation of those ideas. The projects are in essence, one directional. Team members are asked to submit ideas but then feel like they are removed from the process.
Utilize a framework or a platform that enables team members and employees to work together to build upon initial ideas, ask questions to help identify areas of opportunity and the result will be twofold. You will garner more by in from your teams, and the resulting ideas will be higher quality.