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Innovation-Led Growth

Innovation-Led Growth Framework

innovation growth framework illustration of ui with an idea funnel

Innovation has radically shifted from a secretive, top-down process into something as open and collaborative as a community garden.

It is no longer the exclusive domain of visionaries in black turtlenecks, emerging from smoke-filled rooms with groundbreaking ideas. Today's innovation is grassroots, democratic, and accessible. It demands autonomy, purpose, transparency, and tangible results. It necessitates a more efficient, more straightforward, and engaging process for everyone involved.

At Ideanote, we are acutely aware of this shift and have crafted our Innovation-Led Growth Framework accordingly. It places innovation at the heart of growth strategy and ensures that it is woven into your organization's DNA.

From setting clear KPIs and defining purposeful ideas to effectively managing resources and celebrating impact – every step of our framework is designed to build an environment where innovation thrives.

With The Framework, The Flywheel, and our Principles guiding the way, we provide a comprehensive roadmap for innovation-led success and help you do just that.

Join us in embracing the future of innovation and creating impact together.

What is Innovation-Led Growth?

The innovation game has fundamentally changed.

It's no longer just the turtlenecks who're in power in the world of innovation.

Gone are the days when innovation was the only the business of turtleneck-wearing visionaries who emerged from smoke-filled rooms with "the next big thing."

Now, it's as grassroots as a community garden.

People want autonomy and purpose. They want down-to-earth results. They want transparent processes.

That means you need innovation that is more efficient, simple and engaging for everyone.

The most successful companies aren't those with the most bombastic strategies. Instead, it's the organizations that harness the collective genius of their people, who unlock the potential of every voice.

Why Innovation-Led Growth?

Think of innovation as the lifeblood of today's businesses – it pulses through every decision and action, determining the pace and progress of your growth.

In a world that's rapidly advancing, adopting an innovation-led approach is not just smart; it's crucial.

As McKinsey puts it, "prioritizing innovation today is the key to unlocking growth", or, as PWC phrases it: "no company can ignore the imperative to innovate"

At the same time, here's what innovation leaders are facing:

  • Employees are fed up with top-down management and expect to be met with transparent innovation processes that empower and are full of purpose.
  • Customers expect to be listened to and want to co-create solutions.
  • Managers expect to receive value quickly and with minimal effort.

Meeting these expectations means delivering frictionless and goal-driven innovation — or losing your revenue, your customers and your employees to companies that do.

It means leaning into your innovation as the single greatest lever for future growth.

It's time to implement an innovation process that's easy to adapt, proves its value quickly, and is largely self-service.

Such frictionless, goal-driven innovation helps kickstart a virtuous cycle that keeps employees engaged and customers happy.

So, what does it mean to be innovation-led?

It's about embedding innovation into the DNA of your organization so that it becomes the driving force behind achieving your strategic goals, satisfying customers, empowering employees, and maintaining a competitive edge.

Benefits of Innovation-Led Growth

The world's top-performing companies are leading with their innovation to drive key business results and increase their organization's competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Innovation-led growth is the difference between blending in or standing out; it's your company's stealth advantage in a market that doesn't pause for anyone.

Increase Revenue: Reach your sales targets with continuous or radical improvements.

Reduce Costs: Identify and implement cost-saving opportunities across the company.

Solve Challenges: Use the collective mind of your workforce to achieve strategic goals.

Engage People: Empower employees and customers to lift the business's bottom line.

Outcompete Competition: Act on customer needs better and faster than your competition.

Strengthen Resilience: Make innovation a core competency to stay agile in times of crisis.

Innovation-Led Growth Benefits

Are you ready to drive growth through innovation?

How to Get Started with Innovation-Led Growth

Here's the thing: innovation begins with ideas, those tiny seeds that can grow into mighty oaks. And let's face it, they're not in short supply – they come unexpectedly from your team, customers, or perhaps during your third espresso shot of the day.

But here's the catch: not every idea takes root. It would be best if you had fertile soil and the right environment.

Innovation Led-Growth starts with having a space where ideas can grow.

Innovation-led growth starts by creating a home for ideas and informing your employees and customers that their ideas matter.

Create an open, purpose-driven space where everyone feels empowered to share and develop ideas. Make sure it's as accessible and user-friendly as Ideanote's platform; it's not about adding complexity but about stripping it away to enable efficiency and clarity.

At the same time, a cluttered garden doesn't help anyone. Too many ideas without focus can lead to a chaotic mess. Managing innovation means prioritizing, snipping away the overgrowth, and nurturing the shoots with real promise.

So, for Innovation-Led Growth to work in your business, you'll need to

  • create a home for ideas (so ideas do not get lost)
  • establish a goal-driven way of collecting ideas (so you capture value)
  • as well as at least some basic structure (to avoid clutter)
  • and an essential process (to move ideas forward)

Using the right tools simplifies this process, allowing you to streamline efforts, focus energy, and ensure that the most promising ideas grow tall and strong.

With both a home and a structure in place, you'll need to ensure that top-level management does not decide, on a whim, to turn your garden into a dead parking space instead.

A good way to prevent that is to establish goals and assess the impact of your innovation efforts. Monitor engagement, track your pipeline, and measure the real impact on your growth. A well-tended innovation strategy's positive ROI shines through in increased revenue, reduced costs, and strategic goals achieved.

And finally, scale up.

Start with one challenge, identify one idea – and nurture it well. Then, scale to ten, a hundred, or more. Like the startup mantra of starting small and defining clear growth paths, shape your innovation into a self-sustaining, scalable model.

Adopting an innovation-led growth model isn't just about reaching an end goal – it's a mindset, a way of working that keeps you steady yet ready to jump when the opportunity arises.

By positioning innovation at the core of your business, you transform it into a powerhouse capable of navigating today's dynamic landscape and fueling your growth.

So, are you ready to partake in the promise of the innovation-led growth model?

The right strategy, like a trusted watering can, doesn't just sprinkle aimlessly on the surface; it reaches deep into the roots, preparing you to face tomorrow's challenges and turn them into opportunities.

To make this framework even more accessible to follow, we've created the Innovation-Led Growth Flywheel, which guides you through every step.

Ideanote as your New Standard for Innovation

innovation growth framework illustration of ui with an idea funnel

Innovation is needed more than ever, and the right innovation management platform can make the difference between blending in and standing out. Ultimately, better innovation processes lead to faster and more profitable growth.

Here at Ideanote, we're all about making ideas matter. We've changed the way we think about innovation, and you know what? It's working.

With Ideanote, you can collect, engage, manage, measure, and get ahead with more meaningful innovation at scale.

Whether you're using AI to generate ideas or crowdsourcing the crème de la crème of customer feedback, we've got you covered.

Ideanote lets you hit the ground running with an adaptable, self-service innovation process that zips along, pushing your company towards profit and growth.

You can think of Ideanote as the Swiss army knife in your innovation toolkit. It's practical, user-friendly, and gets the job done — while saving you time

Implementing the Innovation-Led Growth Flywheel

As you've read, Innovation-Led Growth is a proven framework for growing your business through investing in a company-wide ability to innovate immediately. It's how leading companies optimize their innovation journey to fuel exponential growth.

At Ideanote, we've turned the Innovation-Led Growth Framework into an easy-to-follow and repeatable process blueprint in the shape of a flywheel.

innovation led growth flywheel illustration
Overview of the Innovation-Led Growth Flywheel

By following the spokes of the wheel step by step, you can get much-needed clarity for your innovation plans and become adept at innovation leadership.

It comes with best innovation practices and questions you must answer as you plan and grow your efforts.

Aim for cycle length that balances significant progress with agility - often somewhere between 4 to 12 weeks.

The best part? You can start with one cycle of the Innovation-Led Flywheel and then spin up the next based on what you have learned to perfect your process.

You can even increase the velocity of the flywheels (how fast you're launching them), diversify them (the areas you're innovating in), or keep them running continuously to get your business up to full innovation speed.

1) Purpose

innovation flywheel purpose focus

We're about the now, the real, and the impactful. So let's start with what's in front of us—an idea, a problem to solve, or a need to fulfill.

At the center of every Flywheel is a purpose: a goal-driven idea collection that challenges people to generate ideas.

Encouraging a healthy innovation culture forces you and your organization to keep a single purpose when innovating. You can keep as many Flywheels spinning as you'd like, but every one of them needs a vital purpose at its core.

If you want to engage people in innovation, it is essential to ground it in a purpose they can understand and relate to. From a strategic standpoint, it is also important to keep innovation within the company's general business goals.

Together with the Initiator, sketch out the core of why it is essential to the team, department, or your entire organization to solve a particular problem by tying it to overall strategic business goals. If you can't develop a succinct purpose, your Innovation risks failing to engage enough people or deliver measurable results, so don't skip this step.

Talk about KPIs

As part of their responsibilities in helping run innovation, you should ensure measurable and achievable goals are set at the outset. What are your goals, and how will you know we've reached them?

Talk about how to best quantify your innovation success and define your success criteria, such as engaged people, collected ideas, implemented ideas, or dollars saved.

2) Initiators

innovation flywheel initiator phase

Your first stage of the innovation Flywheel is triggered by Initiators.

Initiators are cautiously excited about Flywheel's innovation as a potential solution to their business goals. They don't care about the wide range of use cases that can be addressed; they are focused on their particular business area and how they could source new solutions.

Does someone in your organization already have experience with running the Innovation-Led Growth Flywheel?

It can be a great idea to ask them for their experience and lessons to broaden and grow your company's culture of innovation.

Identify an Initiator

Even the most thought-through plans can fail without a senior executive taking an active role in a project to overcome organizational antibodies. Initiators provide executive air cover, are open to innovative thinking and hold the team accountable for learning what's most important.

An Initiator is someone senior enough to clear roadblocks but not so senior that they cannot meet with the team. They have an area that could benefit from innovation and are actively looking to innovate or can be convinced to try it out. In the end, it would not make sense to start collecting ideas if no one has the power to implement them. Innovation needs to work for someone, not just work.

Starting, the innovation team might have to look for an Initiator. Still, as the Innovation-Led Growth approach spreads, the organization's initiators will start reaching out on their own, initiating and sponsoring their idea collections.

3) Collect

innovation flywheel collect phase

You've identified the purpose and an initiator for your mission. Now, the most critical step is defining how you will collect ideas.

Asking for ideas in the best way and defining how detailed you want them to be has a big impact on the rest of the Flywheel.

Define an Idea Template

An idea template is like an empty skeleton that people fill with their ideas. It inspires and provides context when needed. Ideanote offers plenty of custom fields to choose from. Adding helpful contextual clues like placeholder texts means you're basically side-coaching people, helping them submit ideas in a format that has a better chance of being chosen as a winner.

From your perspective, depending on how broad your audience and question are, you might want to add qualifiers like a checkmark field asking, "Which area is this idea impacting?". Need some legal consent? Add a checkmark field. Need estimates? Add a slider field. Need to know what type of idea it is? Add a radio button field.

But remember: while people love submitting ideas, they do not like wasting time.

Only ask the questions you need to ask. The best practice is about four, max. six questions.

Define a How-Might-We Question

In Ideanote, you can launch goal-driven idea collections that center around a challenging question to inspire people to come up with ideas. We recommend posing focused, open-ended questions with the How Might We (HMW) method.

How Might We questions help people think differently and develop new, valuable ideas? The better the question, the better the ideas. Posing too narrow a question might mean you're already pre-defining the solution.

For example, "How might we deliver food via drones?" Posing too broad a question might leave your people wondering what exactly you are looking for. "How might we earn more money?" It's all about striking a balance.

A good idea collection question provides people with focus yet leaves enough room to explore even the boldest ideas. Ask a question that inspires, instills purpose, and is easy to understand.

4) Contributors

innovation flywheel contributor phase

You know who wants to innovate and what ideas you want to collect. For your next stage, you'll scout for contributors, the people who will submit ideas.

You can designate your team, a department, the entire company, or even some of your more engaged customers, partners, or clients as contributors. It's up to you.

Define Contributors

Contributors understand how your mission works towards a purpose they identify with—and they're excited about it! This excitement drives them to submit quality ideas, explore other ways of contributing, and understand the problem at hand more deeply.

Perfect contributors are heavily invested in your company, emotionally connect with the purpose, and care about your success. You can cast a wide net or be specific, but research shows that having a diverse group of contributors makes for more exciting and better solutions.

What kind of people you ask depends on what kind of ideas you are looking for, too.Are you looking for radical new product ideas? You could ask both internal teams and external clients. Want to cut costs in the HR department? You don't need to ask your customers.

Define Access

You've added the Contributors to your mission. But how much should they be able to see? The best practice is to allow them to submit ideas, see other ideas, and like and comment on on incoming ideas.

You can be more restrictive if you have legitimate concerns about privacy, IP rights, or destructive behaviour.Access can easily be managed in the sharing setting of every idea collection and defined for individual Members, Teams, or even the entire Workspace.

5) Engage

innovation flywheel engage phase

Engagement is about going from just a goal to making it real. How are you going to get people involved in the innovation process?

It's about planning and ensuring that your mission receives the attention and engagement it needs to reach your KPIs.

Get Sign-Off

You are potentially going to involve a lot of people. Before you do, getting a final sign-off from stakeholders is best practice. Y

You don't want to step on anyone's toes, and you want to ensure that what you are doing is within the company's goals. Remember, if you don't, then this can erode your position and the perception of innovation in the company over time. It would be best if you made the sign-off happen but can involve the Initiator when needed.

Depending on how many contributors you plan to involve, how flat your organization is, and how defined your processes are, this can turn out to be anything from a fast and simple green light to a drawn-out negotiation between departments.

But don't worry. Getting innovation greenlit should not be a problem. Innovation is a top-three management priority for almost two-thirds of companies.

Define Rewards

Now that you've got your greenlight and you're ready to engage people take a moment to consider what kind of rewards you want to offer Contributors to maximize or focus engagement.

Research shows that intrinsic (purpose-driven) rewards are more effective for innovation purposes than extrinsic (monetary) rewards in the long run.

Extrinsic rewards might lead to higher engagement numbers the first time, but they create pressure that hinders creativity and permanently damage engagement over time as expectations rise.

Instead, focus mainly on no rewards or celebrations that tie back to the bigger purpose.

Don't cast too narrow a ne,t either. If only the winning idea gets something, this might discourage people from submitting their ideas if they underestimatethems. Encouraging friendly competition between teams, departments, or geographic regions can boost engagement, too—even without rewards.

Do you still want tooffero an extrinsic reward?For inspiration, takee a look at these They are a classic model that has proven effective.

Plan Outreach

You know you're allowed to collect ideas from your Contributors and what type of reward you are offering. Now, walk through how you will reach out and engage your Contributors.

You have a good starting point with much ground covered, but you still need to ensure that idea submission is as easy, clearly communicated, and accessible as possible.

Meet people where they are. If you want to collect ideas from people, don't ask them to install an app or follow instructions - be in their faces. Send them a link, put up a poster, or add a widget to the website or intranet they are already visiting.

Tell a story. If you want to make a splash, having strong visuals and a strong story helps. Add a Description, a Cover image, and maybe even record a short personal video with the Initiator.Be transparent.

If possible, add a small FAQ or about page somewhere for people who want to know more about the purpose, the team behind it, the rewards, or the newest stats.

6) Evaluators

innovation flywheel evaluator phase

For your next stage, you'll need to identify evaluators.

Evaluators have core knowledge about the different business areas involved in your purpose-driven idea collection.

They can understand the potential use cases of incoming ideas and can help turn chaos into order.

Recruit Evaluators

Evaluators help you evaluate the commercial potential of incoming idea and ensure that theys pass through the idea management process correctly, reasonably, and efficiently.

They help filter out ideas that should not be advanced because they lack strategic fit and resources or are too similar to products or services already in the pipeline.

Evaluators do not need to be decision-makers or stakeholders, but they do need expert knowledge of ideas' feasibility.

Don't involve too many evaluators. Innovation should stay lean. Try to go for a minimum of two and, at most, seven per evaluation step. Having evaluators from different areas or teams ensures a more accurate assessment and keeps the process fair and transparent for everyone.

You can recruit evaluators from anywhere in the organization.

Just think about what types would be helpful: a legal expert to check patents or legality; someone from the communications department to see if the submission could be published; an expert on business models for, well, business model ideas.

7) Manage

innovation flywheel manage phase

You've collected plenty of ideas with your push for engagement. Now, it's time to make them matter.

Ideas need a place to go and an absolute path to implementation to push the limits of what's possible and help you grow.

Define Phases

You have collected valuable ideas in a goal-driven and structured way. A great way to get the most out of them is to lay down several phases they will move through. Take what's good about your current process for ideas and map that version simply and practically to your idea management platform. If you don't have a process yet, we suggest the simple idea funnel mapped below.

It makes sure every idea gets a chance to be improved before it is evaluated. That keeps things upbeat, and everyone gets feedback. Every phase you add to your funnel is an opportunity to involve Evaluators and make smarter decisions together. You might invite five evaluators to rate ideas in one of the phases or project leaders to an implementation phase. It's all up to you and about who you can mobilize. You have collected valuable ideas in a goal-driven and structured way. A great way to get the most out of them is to lay down several phases they will move through.

Take what's good about your current process for ideas and map that version simply and practically to your idea management platform.

If you don't have a process yet, we suggest the simple idea funnel mapped below. It makes sure every idea gets a chance to be improved before it is evaluated. That keeps things upbeat, and everyone gets feedback.

innovation-led growth idea management funnel

Every phase you add to your funnel is an opportunity to involve Evaluators and make smarter decisions together.

You might invite five evaluators to rate ideas in one of the phases or project leaders to an implementation phase. It's all up to you and about who you can mobilize.

Set Evaluation Criteria

Sometimes evaluating ideas is as simple as skimming and moving the best ones along on first look.

With larger missions involving more than 50 ideas, it is best practice to structure and streamline that evaluation process.

When defining the phases, you can set up evaluation criteria that match your method of identifying the ideas that are most likely to succeed.

You are free to shape the evaluation criteria in any way, and you can even add weighting to make some of them more impactful, but in the end, it is good to keep it simple.

A best practice example is the ICE evaluation scale, which asks your evaluators to rate ideas on the impact, confidence, and ease of the submitted ideas.

Find Winners

You've shepherded ideas through the Phases, evaluated them, and found the best.

  • Sort by highest average rating. You've let people evaluate ideas. You can quickly sort and filter in the interface.‍
  • Move the best ideas to a separate phase. Make it straightforward to you, the evaluators, and the stakeholders whose ideas have been selected by moving them to a separate phase.

8) Stakeholders

innovation flywheel stakeholder phase

Stakeholders are heavily invested in the ideas' business impact. They are the people who can take ideas on to their teams, departments, or committees.

They can help draw value from the ideas you are managing in your mission.

Combine Ideas

You've collected valuable ideas. You might want to group larger patterns and identify similar ideas depending on how many you've collected.

Fair to winners. It might create backlash if you send one idea further than another one just like it. Efficient for stakeholders. Give people who will work with the ideas more context and save them time by pre-grouping ideas.

Just link ideas right within Ideanote to help organize your output with ease.

Hand Over Winners

You might have identified several stakeholders in different areas. Now, it's time to hand ideas over to the right ones so they can act on them and help realize their value.

  • Send to Initiator. Your Initiator was interested in the ideas in the first place. Deliver the top ideas to him.
  • Send to Stakeholders. Decide with the Initiator what to do with groups of ideas and send them on in an easily digestible format.

Tie back. Ensure that the idea ID is passed on so you can keep tracking ideas as they are implemented.

9) Measure

innovation flywheel measure phase

Measuring impact — tracking your KPIs, taking ideas to implementation, and sharing success stories — completes the cycle by driving awareness and engagement.

Having secured a measurable impact for your stakeholders, you can spike initiator interest in spinning the next Innovation-Led Growth Flywheel. Or keeping this one spinning.

Close the Loop

If you want to maintain high engagement over time, you need to make people feel a part of it. A big part of this is keeping the process transparent and closing the loop at the end.

thank-you email

Thank people for their participation. Find a good moment to contact people who have submitted ideas and let them know that their ideas have been received and what's going to happen next.

Reach out to winners. If you have some more specific information or want more,

It's best practice to close the so-called "feedback loop" this way. It keeps the wheel spinning and helps your innovation grow.

10) Accelerate

You can build innovation workflow automations with Ideanote

Every time you spin the Flywheel, your organization should get better at running efficient, frictionless innovation.

Innovation systems should minimize overhead, not add to it. They're there to support the entire business and save valuable time, which can be spent identifying and acting on valuable opportunities.

Our approach also aims to empower teams and organizations that do not have a full-time innovation department by freeing up time anywhere in the process.

From automation to bulk actions to fast onboarding and AI. So you and your team can concentrate on the real work of innovating.


Identify opportunities to collect ideas where your audience is instead of asking your audience to go where your home for ideas is.

With Ideanote, you can embed widgets on your intranet, website, or from within Microsoft Teams. You can even let people submit ideas from their mobile devices by sending them a link or printing posters with QR codes.


Once you've planned the Flywheel, identify opportunities to reduce manual data entry or context switching.

Does your SSO solution include information on department and language that you would like to filter your data by? If so, integrate it.

Do you work with selected projects using your project management tools? Establish a two-way sync so ideas can be pushed there with a click, and ROI results land inside your home for ideas.


Set workflow automation for your innovation process so your ideas keep moving forward. This can include thank-you emails to contributors, the automatic moving of ideas across phases based on specific conditions, and more.

Make sure you're hitting a sensible balance where setting up the automation is not becoming more complex than the time you'll save.

Start small, with 1-2 automation, and add more for your second or third Flywheel as your system starts working for you, not the other way around.


Use the power of artificial intelligence to enrich your data and get inspired. Link up similar ideas, use automatic translations, or get automatic categorization and sentiment analysis.

Anything that gives you a more enriched and faster way to take action on ideas.


Once you've found a process that works for you, publish it as a time-saving template that you and others across your organization can reuse.

Learn and Repeat

Summarize learnings with the Initiator, looking at what went well and what did not.

Build out your playbooks. Our innovation flywheel is a great starting point, but you might adapt it over time. Add your processes, failsafe, and best practice tips in a central document you build over time.

Once you feel ready, launch your next Flywheel with purpose.

Best Practices and Principles

Over time, we've learned how we believe innovation works best for everyone involved.

We've written them down here as a quick cheat sheet to read through and double-check before you run your innovation.

Create a Home for Ideas

We care about ideas from customers, coworkers, small teams, and enterprises. Everything we design takes an approach to making a wide range of use cases possible as long as it relates to making more ideas matter.

Centralizing your innovation and building an innovation muscle over time is something no one can take away from you. Give your business the power of employees and customers who know their ideas will be heard.

All that starts with having a place, a home for ideas and innovation.

Ideanote is that place.

Make Innovation Easy

Some idea forms have 19 fields, some 4. Which ones innovate better?

We started because we were frustrated with long paper forms and bureaucratic processes.

We are here to remove entry barriers and democratize access to the tools for innovation. Ideanote is designed to be user-friendly, making the idea submission process as simple and intuitive as possible.

Don't take that ease of online idea management platforms as an invitation to complicate the process.

Innovation only works when people want to participate. It is a constant battle between organized chaos and a lack of innovation. Too little structure leads to chaos; too much structure kills engagement.

Impactful innovation can be done with a simple form and few steps. It will likely be engaging, efficient, and ultimately successful for everyone.

If you plan a process with 14 Fields on the Idea Form and 18 different Phases, it is time to return to the drawing board. That's ten too much on each of them.

Reconsider, negotiate with stakeholders, ask your end-users. Cut down the complexity to the necessary.

The system is there for the people and the impact, not vice versa.

Win with Goal-Driven Innovation

We build software to help businesses with purpose-driven ideation.

If you ask us, you should only collect ideas if there's a stakeholder interested in implementing ideas for that area. Collecting ideas should serve a strategic goal or address a real challenge.

  • If your crowd submits ideas for a topic of interest to your business, there's a chance for a feedback loop. You can prioritize ideas, implement some, and give feedback on others.
  • If, instead, your crowd is asked to submit general ideas without structure or aim, then the chances of relevant feedback and the percentage of implemented ideas will be infinitely small. Without such a feedback loop, your crowd will grow increasingly frustrated, and managing ideas will slow you down.
  • While you could passively source ideas from, e.g., customer feedback, employee surveys, or conversations, you should not actively ask them for ideas unless you're interested.

Aimless, unstructured innovation hurts long-term engagement and drives no impact.

One way to ensure that you're not losing focus is to sit down and define your long-term innovation goals that are relevant to your business.

​​Aligning all innovation endeavors with strategic goals and continuously evaluating initiatives against milestones helps keep you focused.

At Ideanote, we've created a comprehensive list of 10 Innovation Goals that you can use as a starting point.

The 13 Innovation Goals

Delegate and Celebrate Together

Delegation is a vital part of the innovation process. You create a sense of shared ownership over the process by assigning roles and involving various team members in different stages of idea management. This saves time and enhances the effectiveness of the innovation initiatives.

Delegation also involves not holding power. As Molly Graham said, it's about "giving away your legos." Anything else might lead to resentment and hinder innovation in the long run.

When team members feel trusted with responsibilities, they are likelier to take ownership and put in their best efforts. They feel empowered to make decisions, which can lead to faster and more innovative problem-solving.

You might even create a program for innovation champions that gives innovation training to select individuals.

Celebration is equally vital in fostering a culture of innovation. Acknowledging all contributions, big or small, and celebrating every success is crucial. This recognition can boost morale and motivate your team to participate actively in innovation initiatives.

Ultimately, you want to empower every team member to contribute to innovation. Foster a culture where participation is valued and recognized, creating a healthy environment for new ideas.

Celebrating success together reinforces the message that everyone's input is valued and that innovation is a collaborative effort. It encourages a sense of community, where members feel included and celebrated for their contributions.

Grow Level by Level

Start small and expand thoughtfully as you build your innovation ecosystem.

Begin with a single team or department and scale up as the innovation process refines, maintaining quality and authenticity.

Get comfortable with whatever feels natural as you grow your innovation.

For most businesses, that might start with sharing internal ideas for one team on a specific project.

Here are examples of levels that you can master one by one as you scale your innovation over time.

  • Goal to Goal: Start with supporting one strategic goal, then expand to the next.
  • Internal to External: Start with ideas from your business, then external partners, then customers, then potential customers.
  • Incremental to Disruptive: Start with ideas for minor improvements and changes that show instant value, like a cost-saving campaign. Then, work towards long-term disruptive innovation, like new products or technology.
  • Department to Department: Connect with stakeholders one by one.
  • From top-down to Bottom-Up: Start with a challenge that the C-Suite demands, and work towards challenges on the agenda of individual teams.
  • One-Off to Continuous: Start with a single challenge with a deadline and work towards ongoing idea collections without an end date.
  • Static to Collaborative: Start by collecting ideas via widgets with minimal end-user involvement. Then, work towards collaborative editing or even letting your crowd help you evaluate ideas.
  • Local to Global: Start by implementing ideas within a local team or office. These innovations will be expanded to other branches and, eventually, globally across the organization. This encourages the sharing of best practices and learning from diverse cultural perspectives.
  • Individual to Collective Expertise: Begin by tapping into the ideas of individual experts or thought leaders within the company. Progress to harnessing the collective intelligence of various teams, departments, and the entire organization, fostering a shared knowledge and collaboration culture.
  • Analog to Digital Transformation: Start with manual, analog processes for capturing and implementing ideas. Gradually shift towards fully digital, automated systems that streamline the entire innovation lifecycle, from idea submission to evaluation, implementation, and measurement.
  • Reactive to Proactive Innovation: Initially, focus on reacting to immediate needs or problems with quick fixes and solutions. As the innovation culture matures, it shifts towards anticipating future trends, customer needs, and technological advancements to develop innovative solutions proactively.
  • Isolated to Integrated Systems: Start with standalone innovation management tools or platforms. Over time, integrate these systems with other business processes and platforms (such as CRM, ERP, or project management tools) to create a seamless workflow that supports innovation at every level.
  • General to Targeted Innovation: Begin with broad, open-ended innovation campaigns that solicit many ideas. As you learn more about your organization's needs and opportunities, tailor your innovation efforts to focus on particular themes, challenges, or strategic goals.
  • Quantitative to Qualitative Impact: Initially, measure innovation success primarily through quantitative metrics such as the number of ideas generated or the cost savings achieved. Over time, incorporate qualitative measures such as employee engagement, customer satisfaction, or brand perception to understand your innovation efforts' impact fully.
  • Short-Term Wins to Long-Term Vision: Start by focusing on innovations that promise immediate results or benefits, building momentum and support for the innovation program. As the organization becomes more comfortable with innovation, shift focus towards long-term strategic goals that require patience, persistence, and a vision for the future.
  • Siloed to Ecosystem Innovation: Initially, innovations may be developed in isolation within specific departments or teams. As your innovation capabilities grow, look to build an innovation ecosystem that includes internal stakeholders, suppliers, partners, academic institutions, and competitors to co-create and share innovations that benefit the wider industry or sector.
  • Accessible to Complex: Start by encouraging forward-thinking contributions that align with the organization's vision and long-term strategy. It's fun to shape the future together instead of dwelling on the past. Later, you can look at solving some of the most technically complex business challenges, such as frying chips without oil.

All of these are ways of expanding your innovation ambitions at your own pace over time. In the end, your organization that has experiences and ways of working across all of them will know how to build on its strengths.

It's important to remember that innovation is a journey, and it's okay to start small and gradually expand your efforts.

By strategically navigating this path, you can ensure that your innovation program drives short-term wins and aligns with your organization's long-term vision.

Let's make ideas matter, together.