Broadly speaking, when it comes to innovation and the purveyors of change in companies, there doesn't seem to be a theme of inclusion. The responsibility falls squarely on a particular group of people - typically, the research and development department.

While executives in other departments understand the value of innovation, and it's importance to a company's survival, they don't consider it as their top priority.

Understandably so, these managers have so many other day-to-day imperatives that the responsibility for reform gets moved out of their jurisdiction.

This preoccupation seeps into how they manage their subordinates - their focus is turned towards following rules and regulations and not necessarily coming up with innovation.

The resulting corporate culture is one that is leached of change.

Companies should replace this "centralised" approach to innovation (where the onus is in the hands of a few) for a much more "decentralised" approach (where everyone within the company is encouraged and empowered to innovate).

This inclusive culture also permeates through every aspect of their business operation. Innovation isn't only seen in terms of products, services and processes, but also, in things like packaging, retail touchpoints, inventory control, and partner agreements.

If you're a CPO asking yourself how to go about achieving this kind of pluralistic approach to innovation, here are some suggestions to consider.

Start Small

Encourage a small group of employees to begin this process by coming up with various ideas that would help lower costs, save time and enhance customer service in their respective department.

Keep it local.

Once these ideas have been fleshed out, they should be executed as soon as possible so as to determine its propensity for success.

Swing Big

As soon as your team has been able to demonstrate the success rate of their modest proposal(s), encourage them to tackle more audacious types of innovation.

Can they come up with more ideas that further reduce costs (say by over 50 percent)? Can they come up with other services and products that add value to the consumer?

These are some of the questions you should ask to make them think big and uncover other out-of-the-box strategies

Replicate this Methodology

Once your small group has been able to prove themselves and deliver impressive margins with their ideas, duplicate this innovation tactic all over the company.

If you can, set some funds aside for further experimentation and other new business approaches.

Developing and fostering an inclusive culture of innovation takes time to gain traction, but the reward is well worth it.

Remember, when it comes to social innovation, it is the responsibility of all, not one.

Written by Pip Spibey-Dodd @ Locomote 


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