Time and time again we watch innovation projects get derailed due to the key decision makers not being involved in vital meetings. And it occurs over and over again.
The first thing to remember about innovation is that a business does not have to launch an innovation idea. It can pull the plug at any point and especially before any major investment in infrastructure has been made.
This is not the same for a brand or range that is in existence. It is contributing to the bottom line and it is in the organisation’s interest to keep it alive and healthy. It has to nurture it.
Secondly; if you give birth to an innovation, it is open to clear and public scrutiny. The press, the trade, the competition, internal staff and, of course, customers can see it and judge for themselves quite quickly whether or not it is successful. This puts huge pressure on management teams as to what they choose to release out into the world. And most organisations are not mavericks like Apple or Google. The reality is that most organisations are highly conservative and risk averse.
So it is often better to delay meetings where the key stakeholders can’t attend rather than go ahead without them. Of course we are well aware of deadlines and the need for speed but it doesn’t usually result in an autobahn but a dead end. More often than not you end up with a far bigger delay further along the innovation process or a complete halt due to lack of understanding and buy in by senior management.
This is what getting the senior management to key meetings does:
- Of course they will have a much better understanding of why and how you have got to where you have. But, in addition they get reassured of the breadth and depth of factors and variables that have been considered and eliminated.
- They should also gain comfort and confidence from the consultancy/ consultancies that you employ. Having experts working on a project adds weight and having your key decision makers interact with experts instils real confidence.
- Everyone has internally held beliefs, theories and hunches. Bringing senior management into the innovation process enables these to be expressed. Just the fact that they were said, listened to and put into the consideration mix makes people feel good. The secret part is to make sure that these are included in the testing with consumers so that there is a strong rationale as to why or why not their thoughts are being adopted. This just helps really smooth out the process. Once you know people’s biases, you can manage them. It stops them derailing the project later in the innovation process when considerable investment (time and money) has been made.
- Your senior team will be just like the rest of us; it is human nature that people are more co-operative if they helped create, design or inform an idea. They have made an emotional investment and can’t help feel some form of ownership.
We cannot stress how important and influential this one piece of ‘house keeping’ is in its contribution to whether an innovation project makes it to market or not. Stakeholder engagement is our forte. We will make sure that they are engaged, well behaved and get creative. All you need to do is get them there…