By Colleen Drummond
When innovation is successful at scale, it becomes embedded in the fabric of the business. But successfully scaling innovation means navigating multiple phases, differing priorities and leaders within the business, and goes beyond any one specific team. Even the most experienced practitioners can find this to be a daunting task.
An Innovation Leader report, Benchmarking Innovation Impact 2020, sponsored by KPMG, found competing priorities (61 percent) to be one of the greatest challenges to scaling innovation. Core to addressing this and other challenges is overcoming “the believability gap” – or the resistance of internal stakeholders to buying-in to an initiative or its predicted results.
Why this initiative? Why now?
Organizations have many competing priorities for resources. Leaders may question whether an initiative is really the right one, because "we’ve seen this movie before" or "we only have so many transformations in us."
To overcome the believability gap, it’s important to be able to interpret signals from the market and translate them for the core business. In order to do this, it’s helpful to get leaders outside the four walls and expose them experientially to the signal firsthand. In addition, you can help them understand triggers, tipping points, and what must be true in order for the innovation to be needed.
Internal political tensions can also arise around where to scale; who is responsible for scaling; as well as who funds - and allocates - resources. According to Drummond, “Influence matters. And that's a function of both decision-making accountability and budget authority. To ensure that innovation is viewed as important to the core business, you need to achieve leadership buy-in beyond the CFO. You need to have a clear strategic rationale and socialize it with all leaders who can help navigate potential political challenges.” Innovation leaders need to understand these “parlor rules” if they are to successfully achieve scale. Knowing where the real power resides in the organization and who the power players are will go far to overcome the believability gap.
And often the owners of the economic budgets are not always the ones who are the decision makers on the project, but they have to be influenced to allocate the money. So it's knowing the players, how they fit with each other, who has influence over what, and then what key things that are going to impact their decision making.
When organizations close the believability gap, their innovation programs can gain the momentum necessary to scale beyond the initial initiative and become woven into the organizational fabric. And once innovation has been effectively scaled, it can change habits, preferences, net promoter scores, ratings, and ultimately, demonstrable financial results.
To learn more about the findings of Innovation Leader’s Benchmarking Innovation Impact 2020 report, sponsored by KPMG, or to arrange an interview with Colleen Drummond, please contact Jamie Bredehoft.
Download the report.