Innovation is hard. Sustaining it within an organization is even harder. And, large enterprises with highly-regulated environments can have the most difficult journey to sustain innovation.
However, no matter the size of your company and the industry you’re in, innovation is not optional. It plays a critical role in improving your organization’s value—whether it improves your technology delivery management, expands your market reach, or helps you gain even the slightest competitive advantage.
Through our work with highly-regulated companies and their stakeholders, AuditDeploy encounters the many complexities facing large organizations and their digital innovation capabilities today—whether that’s challenges with organizational clarity and sponsorship, compliance, collaboration, or changing customer expectations, just to name a few. It is through these challenges that we uncovered areas of opportunity and used this knowledge to empower these sophisticated enterprises. Providing them with the partnership and tools needed to tackle these obstacles head-on.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these areas of opportunity, and together we can prepare ourselves for a better tomorrow.
Bottom Line Upfront
First things first. Tie your project to the strategic business objectives.
Whenever we meet a new client, the first thing we try to find out is how their innovation plan supports the productivity or growth initiatives of their company. From there, we work to identify how well-known the project is and its potential value to the leadership team.
Why do we do this? Most large and heavily-regulated enterprises have a lot of projects on the go that they are trying to move forward. Many of these initiatives are vital to gaining productivity savings or driving near-term growth objectives. Understanding where digital innovation initiatives fit into companies’ operating goals is the first critical step toward positioning yourself in a way that allows you to align your talking points to the strategic company narrative. This approach also allows you to determine what specific metrics your business is looking to improve and to support your project with the proper research and trend information.
Once you have a better understanding of the potential impact your innovation will have on the business, you can circulate the idea amongst various stakeholders and senior leaders who will play a key role in whether your project is a long-term success. From there, you will be better equipped to uncover more insight into who your initiative will impact and do a proper risk/reward assessment. When you understand the answers to these questions, you will be in a better position to seek out an executive sponsor who can help further your initiative and come prepared to build deeper relationships.
Securing the right leadership support is one of the most critical factors when trying to be successful and sustainable throughout your innovation journey—especially in a large and potentially risk-averse enterprise. The right executive support and sponsorship behind closed doors will grant you the time, energy, and resources to get your innovation started the right way and over the finish line (on time and under budget, of course).
Establish the Best Techniques for Change (in your organization)
As innovation practitioners ourselves, we understand the process and the need to continually refresh our perspective. A few years back, we picked up this great quote that really resonated with us, “not every change is a project, but every project is a change.” It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, what company you work at, or your role. Every project you are working on is a movement from A to B. If your project involves a team that would be impacted by moving from A to B, then it is a change management project. In these cases, you should be taking a broader human-focused approach to your work—especially if your project will involve assistance or collaboration from other departments such as Finance, Legal, Risk, Compliance, IT, Security, etc.
If every project is a change project, then be prepared to double down on your project structure, governance, communication, and transparency to ensure stakeholders and gate-keepers are kept up-to-date and in the loop regarding progress and decision-making. Keep the channels of communication open and prepare not only to answer questions but ask them yourself as well. Being open, asking good questions and listening deeply is the best way to address any latent issues.
The good news is you’ve already created clarity around the project, authenticated its impact on the business and secured the right executive support. You’re now well on your way towards a more sustainable innovative process. The only thing left to do is ensure you are using the right leadership framework with the right supporting information to better position you for success within your organization.
We’ve found that creating sustainable innovation starts with you, the individual: specifically, your approach to the work, and the people involved in the plan’s execution. To go in the right direction, you need to have a learner’s mindset and foster a culture of continuous improvement and experimentation that opens the door to authentic collaboration and long-term success.
Through the creative journey, keep in mind that whatever you think is “enough” for communication, insights, and information sharing, etc., is likely not enough for everyone on the project. Remember, in this case, less isn’t more when it comes to communication, information, and data sharing. Lastly, stay aware of the competition for mindshare as you and others balance daily duties with the project’s obligations, and you will be well on your way to attaining long-term success on your project.
Transforming Potential Adversaries into Proud Advocates
While it’s true that change and leadership start with you, it is idealistic to think that only you can radically change your organization’s behaviors, processes and outcomes overnight. As mentioned above, most enterprises have multiple ongoing projects in various stages and a deeply embedded culture already in place. Therefore, it will take time, collaboration, energy, and the right strategy to navigate multiple steps. Which generally can’t be done with only a solo effort.
When you started, you incorporated clarity into your mission. You gained an ally from a reliable member of the leadership team to back your initiatives. Now is the time to keep the momentum going and drive your initiative forward with your internal stakeholders as you push towards your desired outcomes for success.
Time to pull everyone in. Make sure everyone with “money on the table” is part of the process and has a front-row seat. Be ahead of the game and start creating the lines of communication before you have to. It’s a good idea to do as much of the ground work as early as possible so you can give more attention later, accelerating the harder parts of your project when you can. And likely have to.
At AuditDeploy, we’ve seen this too many times to count. People just aren’t talking. The flow of communication is either stagnant or non-existent. No one is sharing data, insights, or perspectives. People are being pushed forward to coordinate, but they are too busy playing traffic cop and not focusing on getting more innovation out the door. Regardless of what collective stakeholders are involved, you must get them in the game early. Don’t wait to engage them with smart information. Instead, make them part of the process, which will help with delivering value to your organization.
Do a Pulse Check with Your Customer
Sometimes, your allied stakeholders won’t be directly involved with, or as closely connected to, the “customer” as you are. Therefore, they may not fully grasp the full potential of the innovative concept or the value of your solution. To bridge this intimate knowledge gap, you should present them with targeted data that shows the gap or demand for your innovation, how other organizations may be pushing boundaries, and the potential value being created for your target customer audience.
Staying in tune with your customer’s experience and being relentlessly focused on evolving trends and expectations within the marketplace will identify data you need to share. It will also help reassure your collaborating departments and make them feel more comfortable about the innovation and how it will benefit your organization.
Whatever initiatives you are pushing forward, make sure they stay focused on the customer. Pay attention to what is working or not and be transparent with the data. Doing so will help build awareness and advocacy throughout your entire innovation process. It will build bridges and keep your team focused on the most important aspect of the digital innovation experience, delivering perceived value to your customers and growth to your enterprise.
Bringing it Home
Throughout this article, we’ve identified that innovation is complex, especially in large and highly-regulated enterprises. But, challenges can be overcome with consistency by applying the proper techniques and aligning yourself with the right individuals who can influence change within your organization.
Over the years, we’ve found an intentional and strategic approach to your innovation projects that focuses on the clarity, people, process, technology, and the data will drive the most valuable and sustainable outcomes for you and your enterprise.
AuditDeploy can work with your enterprise to help move your ideas forward faster. As the marketplace continues to change rapidly, your organization needs to rise to the occasion and meet its stakeholders’ demands more quickly, more frequently, and with more efficiency than ever before. Contact our sales team to find out what technology delivery solutions we offer that can be integrated into your innovation frameworks and improve your chances of success.