Having been involved in several efforts on developing the innovation culture within companies, I have learned that you need to work with three organizational approaches.
I call this the TBX approach:
T (Top Down)
- Get the executives onboard and make them personally committed to the innovation activities. Without executive support, no change occurs.
B (Bottom Up)
- Value creation begins with people, one by one, team by team. Nothing happens unless you get the employees engaged and involved. Take ideas, feedback and other input from employees seriously. If ideas just seem to run down a sinkhole and never to re-emerge or if leaders are not able to commit resources to any ideas, you will lose the trust of the employees.
- The biggest challenges will come from the middle managers placed across the organization. A key reason is that middle managers have a narrow focus on their own profit and loss responsibility. They do not see the full picture and thus will not give up resources that do not benefit them in the short run although it is the right thing for the company in the long run. Thus, if not dealt with appropriately and effectively, they can bring innovation to a grinding halt.
The T and B are quite obvious, but try to step back and think for a while on middle managers and the impact they have had on innovation projects you have worked on. They are much more influential than you might think of and you need to find ways of getting around these people.
You can get results through efficient stakeholder management but often you need also to change they way these people are incentivised. Such changes will only happen if you already have the T in place…
Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.