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

It´s a one million (or likely more) dollars question that companies worldwide have been striving to answer: How can we successfully implement and run an idea management programme across borders? In other words, how can organisations with complex combinations of countries, businesses and languages extract value out of corporate wide effort – in particular, when running country specific idea challenges in parallel with corporate challenges?

Organisations have long realised that innovation is the cornerstone of any corporate growth imperative. It’s the ongoing attitude that makes it possible. A source of opportunities, to create differentiated business models, products and cost structure that can ensure resilience and growth, at a global scale.

However, as you know, if you’ve been walking the innovation road for some time, relying on an innovation team or department to do all the work does not function, particularly at such large scale. You need to tap into the ideas and experience of everyone working with you.

Your internal diverse crowds – employees and stakeholders – are your most valuable asset. They:

  • Have been exposed to many experiences, also personally and socially;
  • Come from different backgrounds and education;
  • Are consumers, with good and bad experiences to report, in all walks of life;
  • Have worked in other departments, other companies and even other industries and countries;
  • Are diverse in gender and age and nationality.

Just think about the expertise and knowledge of each and every one of them. Multiply that by a single, shared purpose you identify as a top priority. The possibilities are endless. Many of your employees and stakeholders have, in fact, the potential to be real innovators. But they may lack the tools, methods and incentives to do it.

Where to start such complex enterprise?
How can you make sure your idea management initiatives do reach them, across all frontiers? Running a corporation-wide programme is not an easy task. Social and cultural differences and language may pose real threats.

Geography is the ultimate barrier, yet nowadays easier to overcome with new tools and global online networks. So, before the journey, you have to start by planning a comprehensive idea management programme with ambitious but real targets, deadlines and evolution steps. One that fits your organisation’s goals and features.

Try to anticipate at each turning point in that evolution process when and how to involve your branches and affiliates. Then, learn to adapt as the transformation in your company happens.

Over more than a decade of running innovation efforts across continents, we have learned what works and what doesn’t with leading organisations. We have distilled this accumulated learning into a set of principles.

In the following weeks, I will share 10 top best practices to guide you in designing your cross-countries idea management process definition and governance model. They will help you maximise your results. Let’s get started?

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

Number 1 gets you on the right track
Number 2 avoids premature shut-down
Number 3 helps you to push innovation further
Number 4 sets the beginning and the end
Number 5 gets you to pick the right fights
Number 6 assures community awareness
Number 7 ignites motivation
Number 8 has to be properly geared
Number 9 makes this a shared journey
Number 10 is all about results

Are you set to go?

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10 best practices for cross-border innovation. Number 1 gets you on the right track