Organizations realize the value of investing time, money, and resources into innovation and many are in the process of digital transformation. Employees are empowered to experiment, ideate, and identify transformational capabilities to drive business outcomes, but it can be difficult to move innovative ideas from concept to enterprise production.
Here are a few ways to address the organizational struggle to transform and accelerate ideas to implementation.
Emphasize transformation as much as innovation
Innovation seems to always end with an exclamation point (i.e., excitement) while transformation ends with a period. Digital transformation is a continuous process and should harness the excitement and creativity of innovative ideas while sustaining interest through change. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t characterize the transformation process as a continuous journey and fail to keep pace or deliver.
A lack of emphasis on the journey has led transformations to fall behind, irrespective of the type of innovation or alignment with organizational strategies and priorities. More than 70% of the organizations that pursued digital transformation initiatives lost momentum before reaching full scale or have stalled before achieving expected impact, according to a 2020 McKinsey Global Survey on digital transformation.
Organizations need a dynamic transformation strategy. That strategy needs to account for long-term planning to scale ideas and move them through production. It's important for executive and senior management to aggressively invest in the resources, technology, and opportunities that teams need to execute as transformation demands. A rapid transformation approach needs strong—and constant— leadership support. It needs discipline and a holistic understanding of strategic objectives and outcomes to be successful.
Establish transformation processes to extend innovation management practices
Established innovation management programs help to methodically generate, capture, manage, prioritize, and approve ideas. But it’s not enough for organizations to have an innovation management framework in place. You need to know what happens to ideas after they’re prioritized and approved. How many ideas have been successfully implemented? How many ideas failed? Most failures happen not because an idea isn't feasible, but rather because organizations lack the structural support or processes to implement the idea.
How to achieve successful evolution from idea to transformation:
- Mature innovation management processes and ensure processes extend to transformation. It's critical for actual work to begin when the idea needs to be implemented for the enterprise.
- Create a “Center of Transformation,” with a defined set of key transformation processes, roles, and responsibilities. That will help channel prioritized ideas and provide continuous implementation support from leadership.
- Align transformation processes with organization’s existing program implementation processes to significantly enhance internal buy-in and implementation.
Think of innovation and transformation in terms of capabilities, not disparate ideas
While the point is to turn an innovative idea into a program or implemented initiative, it’s important to avoid disparate implementation of ideas. As organizations traverse ideas through innovation management pipelines, it’s critical to think about the cohesive integration of these ideas and to build the needed enterprise capabilities.
How to implement innovative ideas to build enterprise capabilities:
- Evaluate the impact of each innovative idea and target state architecture. Consider the technologies and components needed to drive holistic solutions that form the enterprise foundational capabilities.
- Identify existing core organizational business processes that need to change. Think about how those processes will need to adapt to the value-add solution to ensure capability alignment.
- Group multiple innovative ideas or incrementally implement ideas. That will help to focus on capabilities versus autonomous ideas for the desired business vision and outcomes.
Train and prepare executives and employees ahead of innovation deployment
An interesting—and frustrating—transformation challenge can be to find people who can comprehend your innovative ideas and plans for implementation. Comprehension requires fundamental knowledge of the innovation trends within your domain. Interestingly, access to skills is one of the top five trends shaping corporations' digital business strategies, according to Gartner.
Many organizations lack employees with the skillsets and technical proficiency required in today's workplace, due to rapid technology advancement, entrenchment in legacy technology, or a lack of proactive training. That means organizations are left to wait extended periods—potentially years—to recognize the value of an innovative idea. Again, that is not due to the feasibility of the idea but the lack of contextual and technical knowledge to comprehend and execute the idea.
How to overcome skill limitations to execute transformation:
- Create a baseline for organizational digital transformation knowledge. Identify, define, and invest in baseline training that touches the current top five future digital transformation trends applicable for your domain. Baseline training will serve two purposes: Align innovations with employee skills and prepare leaders and staff to adopt innovations during their transformation journey.
- Continuously train executives and employees on applicable innovation trends. Rather than waiting until innovative ideas are suggested, arm your workforce with information so they can embrace the potential of innovative ideas and immediately provide transformation support.
- Don’t wait. Train executives and employees on new technologies and processes to prepare them ahead of innovation deployment. Proactively train employees to not only drive a deeper domain understanding but a broader understanding of the other disciplines that are tightly integrated across the enterprise. This approach empowers your leaders and employees with knowledge to generate more innovative ideas, comprehend ideas that enables decision making to accelerate idea movement to production.
To summarize, cultivate innovation excitement and lessen transformation struggles. A proactive approach to transformation empowers leaders and employees to generate, comprehend, and retain excitement for more innovative ideas and, ultimately, accelerate their production.
How to successfully implement innovative ideas from concept to production:
- Realize and explicitly emphasize the value of transformation. This will ensure agility within organizational culture and institute continuous focus and momentum during the transformation journey.
- Establish repeatable and sustainable transformation processes with constant leadership backing. This will ensure the smooth transition of ideas from innovation pipeline programs to implementation.
- Shift thinking from innovation as disparate ideas to holistic capabilities. Implement ideas as enterprise capabilities to improve organizational ability to establish new business value.
- Initiate proactive training for executives and employees on innovation and digital transformation trends. This will build awareness and the understanding required to comprehend, scale, and accelerate ideas to implementation