As we’ve written about frequently here at the APEX of Innovation, the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation initiatives for many companies. These efforts can only be expected to increase as we head into 2021. With that in mind, a recent CIO article outlined some tips for organizations to focus on innovation, among them:

Start with an innovation framework and council

A critical first step is establishing a framework and the various processes required to take potential ideas from the concept stage all the way to implementation and delivery of value throughout the organization. Depending upon company size and specific innovation goals, this team could range from a single individual to upwards of hundreds of staff members. The most critical thing is that the team champions change effectively and also adds the formality, structure, and legitimacy needed to move innovation efforts forward.

Source ideas from multiple innovation activities

Innovation campaigns, workshops, hackathons, and contests are just a few examples of activities companies can undertake to identify innovation potential. According to the CIO piece, one popular approach is multi-modal ideation, in which ideas are sourced using multiple activities operating with different objectives, target audiences, and cadences.

Balance voting criteria across business benefit and ease of implementation

As with most enterprise activities, it’s important to strike the right balance between cost and business benefit. When voting on innovation initiatives, a best practice is defining an equal number of criteria for each side. For example, financial value and strategic fit on the business benefit side and time and cost to implement and project risk/complexity for the cost side.

Let participants vote individually

Allowing all participants to vote individually enables companies to get a true reading on group consensus as well as seeing where and why opinions differ.

Explain voting criteria with a participant guide

It’s a good idea to create a participant voting guide to define voting criteria and also address commonly asked questions. Failure to clarify specific terms can result in confusion, incorrectly cast votes, and resentment among participants, all of which can ultimately curtail innovation efforts.

Analyze voting results with a cost-benefit matrix

Using a cost-benefit matrix or a project prioritization matrix makes it easy to quickly analyze results and also identify quick wins from must haves. From there, organizations can more easily plan for the near term and long term and devise better, more actionable roadmaps as a result.

Save design thinking for later in the process

Design thinking is omnipresent in discussions of innovation activity, but traditional tools and approaches are much more effective when companies are in the early stages of innovation.

For more on these and other tips for up leveling innovation at this critical time check out the CIO article here.