The First Step to Innovation that Many Skip (and Shouldn't)

Now that you or your team have developed what you think is a great idea, what is your next step?

  • Do you go talk with more customers to test the market?
  • Do you build a "Gold Standard" prototype to test against the competition?
  • Do you start working with your supply chain in order to start ordering parts/ingredients?
  • Do you build the mock packaging?
  • Do you file for a patent application?
  • Do you bring your organization's stakeholders together to enroll everyone on the idea?

Whether it is a core, step-change innovation or a leap, multi-year innovation, I have seen projects go faster, with less organizational friction and with greater success, when project leads first enroll the stakeholders.

Enrolling the organizational stakeholders helps:

  • Develop alignment;
  • Find the biggest hurdles sooner;
  • Solve some potential problems faster;
  • Improve the initial idea;
  • Ensure greater clarity on the idea.

Without the initial enrollment, the project lead has to individually work with each stakeholder, who feels it their sole responsibility to otherwise slow or stop the project.  And what happens is that the project lead plays "whack-a-mole" in chasing down and placating each individual stakeholder rather than working with them as a team.  This wastes time.

And, as a team, there is a built-in and infectious camaraderie (in an organization with good leadership) to not kill a good idea, but improve and work together as a whole to succeed.  And when stakeholders witness their colleagues helping, they too want to be part of the successful team and thereby lend a hand.  

And by the way, killing an idea for sound reasons is a success.  The problem is, too often we don't do so soon enough.  Getting stakeholders to kill an idea (for sound reason) is a success.

Next time you have a good idea you want to drive forward, take a minute to stop, bring all your stakeholders together, create alignment, and see if you can succeed in killing your idea faster or getting to market faster.