Your Team Can be Innovation Change Makers

Guest Blogger: Tracy Graf

An accelerating pace of change in almost all industries is driven by the need to reduce costs, compete more effectively, and innovate to get or stay ahead. There is often a plethora of ideas coming from all directions.  

Everyone has a great idea, at least occasionally! Some people constantly have innovative ideas popping into their mind – maybe it’s a new communication strategy, way to enhance synergies, product or service, process improvement, or creative way to solve a problem. 

However, most great innovative ideas never actually get implemented. Your team is probably sitting on a gold mine of ideas inside their heads. However, countless reasons are keeping those ideas hidden – lack of confidence, organizational culture, fear of failure, restricted resources, authority limitations, etc.

How much more could your team achieve if those mighty ideas could be shared more openly and consistently brought across the finish line? 

All teams within the organization must constantly nurture and harvest new ideas, plans, and visions to thrive in any industry. 

To help your team realize positive change, support them in these three steps: 

1.  Surveying

  • Find out who the key players are, not only on a formal organizational chart.

Explore who is influential without a big title. Understand the informal authority of opinion leaders, network leaders, and gatekeepers.

Determine who is professionally (committees/teams) and personally (socializing outside of work) connected. Who could positively impact others in their network?

  • Monitor external trends and activities

Learn about customers’ needs, as well as the goals of your vendors, rivals, local communities, industry experts, etc. What are they thinking, feeling, considering, expecting, fearing, and wanting?

  • Learn from others

Internally, find other people or teams with a similar idea implemented at your organization. Ask them open questions. Absorb information from their experiences and learn what can help get buy-in for your idea. 

Externally, survey other organizations and industries. Even if they are a completely different type of business, you can find innovation in comparing others’ experiences to yours. 

2.  Reaffirm your message

  • Earn backing from top leaders

It is often easier to earn top management’s attention and support if you can align your innovative idea to key organizational strategic initiatives. Early timing is vital. 

  • Advocate for resources 

Successful organizations don’t just throw money around aimlessly. You must solicit the resources necessary to make your idea a reality. To convince budget managers your innovation is worth their investment, you need to build a powerful case for why your idea will provide a high ROI. 

  • Foster supporters 

If you surveyed well, you could use that knowledge to get introductions to movers and shakers. You can ask your network to amplify your message to others. Public endorsement of an idea encourages reluctant people to give it consideration.

3.  Identify reliance and harmonize

  • Request input

Ask stakeholders open questions to understand who depends on who for what. Learn the goals, concerns, and constraints of cross-functional teams. Bring in multiple points of view to allow for improved solutions.

  • Maximize shared workflows 

Work in harmony with others. There are other people and teams that have resources on which you rely to get your idea executed. Another group may take over the implementation of your idea after you launch it. Help those people achieve their goals in exchange for their support of yours. 

  • Persuade and collaborate

Often others have varying agendas, incentives, and priorities from yours. You must work to make sure the needed cooperation is forthcoming. You can obtain their cooperation more easily by positioning your request in a way that will help achieve collective goals, not only yours. 

Anyone at any level in a team can gain rapid buy-in for their new ideas, if they practice these effective change adoption steps of Surveying, Reaffirm your Message, and Identify Dependencies. Help your team be “Innovation Change Makers” by ensuring these steps are ingrained in your team’s culture. 

About the Author

Tracy Graf is the CEO of Fuse – Igniting Communication, an innovative training company that is increasing success for a variety of prestigious organizations across the globe. Fuse customizes workshops to meet their clients’ needs in developing Transformational Leadership, Team Collaboration, and Partnership Development. 

Fuse’s “Innovation Change Maker” workshop uses AI technology to simulate learning the three steps to effective change adoption discussed above. The workshop concept is based loosely from Ancona and Bresman’s book X-Teams: How to Build Teams that Lead, Innovate, and Succeed (Harvard Business School Press, 2007).

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