Corporate innovation: The keys to success

Corporate innovation: How it works?

Successfully launching a corporate innovation program is therefore crucial, because it is the founding stone of a new whole. And beyond the formality, which must be well mastered, there are also issues that can impact the effectiveness of the process.

innovation participative

How to launch a successful corporate innovation program?

A launch is a strong moment that must be remembered. It can last for an evening, an hour, or even a week if the company is ambitious. In all cases, it has a start date and an end date. It is an episode that must be programmed, announced, and promoted internally.

This is the time for the short term, for emotion and impact. The long term is the project in itself. The one that detects and supports innovative ideas, and which spans several months or several years. One that must be carefully thought out so as not to run out of steam too quickly and continue to live once the initial craze has subsided.

Find the right topic

You have to find a topic that is likely to concern as many people as possible, that is easy to understand, and that can provide real added value in the operational management of the company and in its development. This means key issues, competition, strategy, and breakthrough innovation

The right topic is one that requires collaborative work. Not a minor “put fruit baskets in meeting rooms” type of improvement. To function, the company must put itself in a position to be looking for start-up advice, in order to reinvent the existing business and, if necessary, face criticism. Something that could relate to the survival of the group.

Bet on phygital

Multinationals are dispersed over different sites and countries, with varying degrees of autonomy. It’s safe to say that bringing all employees at the same time and in the same place is impossible. However, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to get them all involved and develop collaboration by setting up an idea box.

This is precisely where phygital is a perfect option: A mixture of face-to-face and digital with a digital networking system that uses on-site relays within departments and in business administrations.

Recruit and train ambassadors

These are employees who can be involved in the organization of the project and who are in charge of the “evangelization” of internal collaborative innovation. Full effectiveness means all services must be covered, from the agency in a small provincial town to the Paris headquarters, including the business unit in London or Madrid, for example.

These ambassadors are at the heart of the system. They are trained, they know the project, and often work voluntarily because they are convinced by the changes that it can bring. Sometimes, they are even participants or contributors.

Create the momentum

Is it possible to innovate without an event challenge? Yes, but it is much more difficult. To be honest, it’s like running a 100 meters starting five seconds after everyone else. When we start from scratch, we must mark the occasion to use collective intelligence. Without it, you risk spending a lot more money, time, and energy for a lot less results. If the company is used to corporate innovation program, the launch efforts will be less, compared to another who discovering the process.

In any cases, a push is needed to get the ball rolling. The force of the push depends on the company’s culture, the level of motivation of the troops, and the appetite for change and digital transformation.

An event-based challenge

However, it should be kept in mind that an event challenge that marks the great beginning of the process is generally an action with few elected officials and many spectators. This can take the form of a competition or an internal challenge, so that the launch transforms from the theoretical stage into a practical component. In this case, the candidates must be valued and supported.

This is “The Voice” of innovation: the public must have a role to play. An event-driven context must be created in order to transform an innovation project into a reality show with high potential. The goal: To thank and value the avant-garde, while encouraging others to get started.

L’Oréal Beauty Fast Forward is the best example we have at Yumana of a yearly event that drives such a huge engagement of employees to participate in a corporate innovation awards.

No losers, only winners

This is the subtlety of the approach: A competitive spirit necessarily involves disappointments, creates dissension, even tensions, and can also encourage cheating, humans being what they are. It is not uncommon to see participants in a closed competition spending more time figuring out how to cheat and hack the system, rather than getting involved in order to get it right.

The organization of an entrepreneurial challenge event as a launch must be managed with great tact. It is not a match or a competition. This means that there are no losers: there are just ideas that aren’t ready, are too ahead of their time, or need to develop in maturity.

Vigilance is key: Competition can be destructive, whereas, on the contrary, there must be analysis and rationality to benefit from the initiation.

Value and reward employees

For the participants, it is the participation in an adventure that counts. It is a great motivation to be valued as an individual (especially career-wise), even if the idea or project was not selected or did not “win”.

Concretely, going on stage, in front of an audience, receiving the congratulations of the jury, shaking hands with the CEO, and receiving a trophy with a souvenir photo has much more impact than an Amazon voucher for 50 euros sent anonymously by email as a reward.

Once the launch of the corporate innovation program is complete, the work must continue, because the management of the unsuccessful ideas is at least as important as that of the selected ideas. As an example, when creating the electric lightbulb, Thomas Edison said that he did not failed. He had only found 10,000 ways that didn’t work. All ideas have value, sometimes you just have to wait for the right moment to know how to use them.

Picture of Ofer Attali
Ofer Attali

CTO de Yumana

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