Digital Innovation Series: Start Small, Communicate Big
Innovation from within a larger corporate organization takes a lot of convincing. Your peers, colleagues and senior management need to see that you want to move things forward. There are a number of things that can help you get your message across to both your colleagues and management.
How to get your innovation project noticed in a corporate setup?
Here are a few things I urge any project manager in a corporate environment to do.
Within a large corporate setup, projects are only as good as the amount of market traction and management attention they receive. There is nothing wrong with that, but you need to learn (quickly) how you can get the attention of your colleagues and senior management for what you are doing.
Since big budgets are not given out regularly, you need to think small(er). Most importantly, think about single feature development to prove a point. One of the biggest mistakes corporate projects make, is that they focus on creating full-fledged services. Whereas the consumer (who could just as well be an internal co-worker in your company), is usually looking to solve one specific problem, first.
By creating one single smaller solution to a problem, you can save resources and focus on result / success communication.
Make your product tangible
Ideas are great, prototypes even better. When you have a great idea and you want to get it “funded”, start by using the resources you have to make a tangible example of your product.
If you do not know how to code, use the tools that you have.
I have created numerous “projects” in PowerPoint first, before getting the approval from management to go ahead and build it. But, I managed to make my ideas as clear and tangible as possible. Screenshots, scribbles, user-flow concepts, all of it helps to get your message across better. Be sure you do not leave this valuable step out in the beginning of your journey.
Communicate your future goals
Everyone is on a budget, you will need to show results. The good thing about corporate setups is that you have time, though. You must make sure, not to get caught up in the “justification game”.
Hence, it is important to keep communicating what you want to achieve with your project. Think long term, that is the only thing that senior management really wants to see. Quick shots that only solve a partial problem, are not able to move the business forward systematically in the future.
When I think about future projects, I try to aim for innovations that complement, stream line, or could even replace the core business. Process innovation is just as valuable as new business development. Yet, the projects must have the potential to solve long term problems, or seize opportunities.
Problems are new projects, not deal breakers for innovation
Digital innovation is still a relatively young topic for most organizations. It is hard for most senior managers to grasp the complexity and long-term potential of innovation-projects.
Therefore, it is very important to stress the multitude of tasks and explain what you need to be working on.
When you cannot hit your own KPIs, focus on the core tasks that will be coming your way. Explain what the next steps will be, over and over again. By doing so, you will show stamina and understanding of growth- as well as project-development. “They,” will want to see that you have a plan, and you are in control.
also need to hit your targets, but talk about the future of innovation as much as you can. It will make your counter-parts think about the possibilities, too. And maybe even give you some great ideas and input you need to succeed with your innovation project.
I hope these thoughts on digital innovation will help you in your daily work. Get things done and focus on the future. I firmly believe that it helps to take small steps when it comes to innovation in larger companies. We need to make sure that no-one is left behind when big changes occur.
Hence, we convince and show our peers how we work and where we want to go. Get everyone excited about innovation and change – make sure that it becomes a part of your organization. Anyone can drive change from within – but you need to use the right tools to get others involved in what you are doing.
Have a great day, Remco