“We’ve had change initiatives before. They didn’t change the
“Let me show you the reports from some of our past innovation days.”
Does any of this sound familiar? So many companies we’ve worked with feel like they’re fighting an uphill battle when they want to do something new and different. This sort of negative self-talk stalls the desire for innovation, and it is frequently driven by past failed efforts.
A colleague of ours used to describe it as the Seagull Syndrome: “Consultants are like seagulls. They swoop in, eat your lunch, crap all over you, and then fly away.” In some cases, that’s not far off the mark. Part of the problem is that there are many consultants out there whose work is to come in, stir up some feelings and ideas, and then to compile a report. That model is broken. It defines the report and recommendations as the end of the project. However what successful companies have demonstrated is that personal engagement and commitment is critical to developing a new product, process, service, or system. For innovation to really start to work, to take hold, and to flourish, here are some things that are vital to the process:
- A senior team champion. Without support from the C-suite, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to drive a revolutionary change.
- Critical mass and talk time. This doesn’t mean a few marketers coming together in a room and producing some fuzzy statements about commitment to the future. It means getting a critical mass of the people who will really do the work, in the room, and securing their commitment to make an action plan.
- A willingness to do the work. Consultants can’t change organizations. Only individuals, working together to a common purpose, can do this. Expecting that a few hours or days with a facilitator will solve the problem without anyone from the company getting their hands dirty is a clear signal that the corporation is not ready to grow and change.
- SMART next steps. At the end of the process, the beginning of the implementation should be clearly mapped out. Each individual
should come away with a Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound road map of what his or her commitments will be, by when, and with whom.
- Authority where there is responsibility. This links back to the senior team champion. Once the roadmap is clearly laid out and the projects are developed, the champion’s role is to ensure that those who have been given responsibility are also afforded the authority to carry out their mission.
All of these things are possible, and more. If you’re looking for ways to march boldly forward into the future, we’d love to hear from you.
Megann and Steve