Shaping the future: How to bring your team on board with your Innovation Lab

11.08.20

by Pietro Marini

An Innovation Lab is only as good as the people within it. In the second of our Innovation Lab mini-series, our Group Head of Innovation, Pietro Marini, shares his tips for ensuring the entire company is on board

11.08.20

by Pietro Marini

An Innovation Lab is only as good as the people within it. In the second of our Innovation Lab mini-series, our Group Head of Innovation, Pietro Marini, shares his tips for ensuring the entire company is on board

What does it take to build a successful innovation department? We touched on a few key points within the first chapter of this mini-series; from ideas inception to building an identity and identifying the actual fit of your innovation strategy as part of the wider company objectives.

But an Innovation Lab can only be successful if your team is fully on board – after all, the best ideas comes from diverse voices. Read on for our tips for communicating your values to the wider business in an impactful way.

Open discussions with the wider business

Especially in larger businesses, it’s possible that some people and teams will feel closer to certain departments than others. The introduction of an Innovation Lab may well be very exciting for the business, but some may want more information to understand the value it can provide. Encouraging drop-in sessions for those not directly involved in the Lab itself will help foster that sense of togetherness – as well as commitment to the same aims.

On top of this, it’s important for those working in the Lab to keep a close eye on the progress of the business more generally (i.e. which clients have come on board, how those clients are adapting to industry changes, and how they can help influence their strategy) in order to influence their work for the betterment of the company at large.

Every step is a lesson

There will be times when you hit a dead end with your work and ideas. It may seem like something you were deeply invested in comes to nothing and you’re back to square one. If this happens, there is always a chance to learn and adapt your approach for the next idea or project, as well as the chance to re-prioritize.

There are hundreds of reasons that may cause an idea to fail: technology, market maturity, know-how and availability are all such examples. Being able to identify when a project is beginning to run into a dead end is also important in this context, which leads us to…

There will be times when you hit a dead end with your work and ideas. If this happens, there is always a chance to learn and adapt your approach for the next idea or project.

Pietro Marini, Group Head of Innovation

Be realistic

When your Innovation Lab opens, naturally the team will be full of vibrant enthusiasm, ready to tackle any and every challenge that is in front of them. The reality, however, is that some projects will be more manageable than others. Some may require more human resources than is possible to provide; others may be limited by the technology you have at your disposal.

Similarly, there may be so many projects you want to tackle, that you aren’t able to invest as much as you want into each one. The key is to be realistic and maintain a sense of practicality in terms of what can be achieved. Again, what is realistic needs to be shared by the senior decision-makers in the company, as early on as possible.

Identifying real problems, provide real solutions

While it may be tempting to work on a project that seems impressive or ‘in vogue’ at first glance, it’s important to consider whether the work will provide tangible benefits both to any future client, and the marketplace more generally. Identifying where there are gaps in the market, or challenges that clients are facing is central to achieving this. This means placing an emphasis on research, evaluation, and learning.

Know when to go public with your findings

There will come a time in the future when you have developed an idea, tested it, and think you are ready to either involve real-world clients or bring to the market in another way. This will naturally involve conversations with sales and marketing, account managers, and other key stakeholders. Do they fully understand what you have created? And how are you going to clearly communicate this to the outside world?

Conclusions

While there is a lot to remember here – and the scale of the challenge ahead may appear daunting – aligning yourself and your Lab with these key principles will help your staff, your projects and ultimately your business thrive.

Read part one of our Innovation Lab mini-series here, ‘What does it take to build an Innovation Lab?’.

‘10 Things to remember before you launch your own Innovation Lab’ originally appeared on Future Shapers on 16 July 2020. Click here to read the full article.

We’d love to hear from you, get in touch with the team or join the conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn. 

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