10 best practices for cross-border innovation. Are you set to go?

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The biggest challenge multinational companies face today is how to build an organisation where collaboration is sustainably enabled by technology, processes, capabilities and behaviours. Where collective intelligence becomes the ‘muscle’ behind innovation. And where people, individually and as teams, work beyond their job description, and everyone, anywhere, can make a difference.

To make sure your idea management programme does thrive, remember then to:

1. Get leadership’s commitment: Not just their sponsorship.

2. Secure a budget, at least a three-year budget: Minimising risk of short term shut-down.

3. Gather and prepare your human resources: Find and train local innovation advocates and ambassadors to liaise with the other branches and the headquarters.

4. Define a higher purpose: Make sure someone on the other side of the world feels they can contribute to the growth and sustainability of the entire organisation.

5. Find (local) relevance: Get to know people’s needs and aspirations and launch local challenges.

6. Communicate always: And adapt the communication plan to local habits and ‘flavours’. Remember that the challenges themselves, the positive incentives provided, have to be aligned with a common and clear purpose that is publicly communicated.

7. Define an appealing incentives plan: Motivate each branch to be the best in class by giving them visibility and recognition, as teams and individually.

8. Use social tools wisely: Use a collaborative model for the participation of a large and diversified group of people, as well as game mechanisms, to make participation fun, engaging and continuous.

9. Be transparent: Idea management programmes need to embed the sense of proximity in participants and depend on the transparency of the process to gain credibility. Prediction markets are a powerful and highly transparent way to do it.

10. Get, measure and share results: And turn the best ideas into projects.

Never forget that people really want to be listened to and to be part of the process. You must mobilise them and keep them involved around meaningful business challenges.

This also means that, throughout the process, you have to empower your local branches, give them a mandate and autonomy. Get their buy-in into the programme. Empowerment comes with responsibility.

To give the extra edge is also an extra responsibility on top of someone’s day job. So, finally, if you want to get your people’s attention and encourage them to participate, across cultures and countries, equip yourself to be positive, resilient, and to lead the way.

Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder

Innovation programme across borders: 10 best practices to make it work

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