Kicking Off Innovation Transformation – The Charter Statement

by Luis Solis

The Charter Statement is the single most important tool to ensure an effective kick-off for enterprise innovation, or any complex transformation initiative.

No wonder many innovation initiatives fail to deliver.  In my enterprise transformation work for 25 years, the Charter Statement is an exception and not the rule despite analogs for Six Sigma, Lean, CRM and ERP.

The Charter Statement delineates governance by explicitly setting forth a statement of scope, objectives, and participants in an innovation stream, with special focus on roles, work to be done, metrics and more.  Well done, it helps all participants to visualize (and attain) success, because a consensus perspective is achieved.

Developed in a 3-6 hour workshop intensive with strategic and operational managers for the initiative, the Charter Statement (see one below) on one page will capture these crucial initiative dimensions:

  • project name/project leader
  • innovation sponsors (oftentimes, no one knows who this is!!!)
  • innovation champions (just the most senior ones)
  • type of innovation (incremental or strategic or breakthrough)
  • innovation driver(s) (why are we doing this?)
  • business case (what is the compelling case for action; the likely benefits?)
  • job statements (what are the main work streams to be completed)
  • customers (internal, external, etc)
  • unmet outcome/results expectations
  • competing solutions (indeed, there always are more than one first thinks)
  • key assumptions to be tested (like hypotheses; later, analysis is performed)
  • expected organizational/financial impact
  • key milestones/timelines
  • initiative investment/budget (people, process, tools and more)

Who stands to benefit from the Charter Statement?  Everyone!  The client organization aligns.  The key initiative sponsors know what to expect; the project managers know how to succeed.  With this baseline artifact, it is extremely effective to periodically measure performance against expected outcomes.  And third party organizations from consultants to software providers or coaching firms have a much higher probability of delighting the client when a consensus Charter Statement is available.

Next time you want to make real innovation happen, to really transform the enterprise, invest in the time, energy and focus to kick-off with a Charter Statement.

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Luis SolisLuis Solis is President – North America at Imaginatik plc, a Professional Advisor – IT/IS Department at WP Carey Business School (ASU) and a veteran entrepreneur in the software as a service (SAS) business.

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