If you have come up with an innovative idea working within a larger business, you've probably faced silos frustrations, redundant process, and policies in your effort to bring the concept to life.
If you’re ready to get innovative (even if it means getting your hands dirty), we want to help! With the nature of our work, we have some experience in IT innovation, but the basic principles of each step can be applied to any innovation effort.
This is not a list of "corporate hacks" that will change the productivity levels of your department magically. It takes a lot of hard work at every step.
Step 1. Find as many like-minded colleagues as possible and align with them.
Despite how you feel, there's a good chance you're not alone. Your first step is to learn more on this front about other efforts being made. Numbers have power. Hopefully, you will find some well-respected people, have some influence, or at least have an audience already; all of which can benefit you if you work together.
Step 2. Move from general goals to solving specific problems.
All senior leaders want to see ROI, so finding, understanding and proposing solutions to existing problems that will either directly reduce costs or make the company money is usually a necessary step towards achieving a budget.
This usually takes longer and is more complicated than most people expect, which is why many are unable to reach a place where a real problem was conceived (that needs a solution), and a solution was proposed and validated. This may also require some initial "nights and weekends" time depending on how much flexibility you have in your current role.
Step 3. Identify what you think a solution might be
Identify the PROBLEM statement. Once you identify these with your team, you're going to want to build a minimum viable product (MVP) capable of testing and solving these problems.
Step 4. Figure out exactly what is your plan. (Pitch like a startup.)
In this step you should have a pretty good idea of the kind of time resource, money and working hours need to put in and what outcome will be.
Step 5. Figure out exactly who you’re asking.
Narrow down who will be the leader calling the final shots on your project. He is the one who will approve your idea, budget and who will be excited about the project.
Step 6. Build a cross-functional team around your project.
You know exactly what to build, so put the dream team together now. To do this, ask questions such as: What are the necessary critical skills required at the ideation stage? What are my gaps or blind spots that might put the project in jeopardy? Who is interested in innovative work that is disruptive? Whom do I want to be within the trenches (i.e., if there will be some late nights and weekends, with whom do I want to spend that time)? Who has a track record of being and getting stuff done as a great team player? Who is well respected already?
Step 7. Execute the MVP quickly
Begin testing, learning and iterating as you learn. You can then proceed to the next phase.
Step 8. Fail fast.
Make your failure as cheap as you can, and then make sure that you highlight the learning process and suggest the next phase. You may discover that the timing is wrong, that the problem is not as real as you thought, or that there is the problem, but that you have the wrong solution.
Step 9. Show your project and find a chance to do it again.
Talk about it and share the success of what you learned, how you did it.
If you are successful, you may get the opportunity to build a team throughout the company to do this full time, or at least make it much easier for others to get an allocated budget for similar work.