10 best practices for cross-border innovation: Analysing number 3

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What sometimes is less obvious when launching your innovation programme across borders, is the need for a constituency inside your company to provide needed support throughout different phases of the process. Still, forget about employing a huge army of innovation musketeers. That’s not going to happen.

Since you’ve not been given an army of trained consultants to fight the innovation war, you need to find creative ways to build a constituency. Ongoing training programmes that ‘produce’ innovation practitioners is one way to go.

Over time, you’ll build up a constituency ready to support you in your efforts – especially if you have this contribution codified into each individual’s performance evaluation targets.

For instance, you’ll need internal backing for communication: to reach out to employees and stakeholders in far-flung parts of the company, to give a little boost when necessary to a particular idea or venture and so on.

Learn also how to spread your advocates strategically across branches, with different levels of innovation proficiency and sharing a commitment to this cause. They are the foundations of your governance model.

How can you actually take your initiative to this next level?

At Exago, we asked that question of ourselves when a client commissioned us to design a programme to build an internal army of innovation practitioners. Together, we defined a set of outcomes to increase the success of initiatives by improving content quality, accelerating throughput and de-risking opportunities. We named the programme ‘Innovation Sigma’ and based it on efficiency focused Six Sigma principles:

  • Definition of four different levels of innovation proficiency;
  • Curricula (tools and courseware) that qualify participants at each proficiency level;
  • No full-time allocation (tapping into pivotal resources inside the organisation);
  • Guidelines describing how individuals can progress from one proficiency level to the next.

Whatever the programme you adopt, what’s important is that you create a homogeneous system, throughout your organisation: with a portfolio of offline tools, methods and processes that allow trained individuals to push innovation further. Build your own army of innovation practitioners to enhance innovation proficiency and deliver differentiation continuously.

There is no substitute to minds working together in a room ideating, elaborating upon an idea, and accelerating a venture. You need to structure these events in a way to assure they achieve the desired outcomes.

This means designing the right set of tools, processes and facilitation for each session. Ideally, you should have a catalogue of offline programmes that you can easily draw from whenever you need to unstick an idea or a stalled opportunity.

Remember then to:
# Build your constituency, across countries
# Create offline processes to push innovation forward

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

Number 4 sets the beginning and the end

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

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