Mapping Out Early Advice
Most projects involve multiple stakeholders, and getting their feedback early in the process could be key to the progress of an innovation project. Stakeholders need to be identified, consulted and involved in the project if you want to move it forward. It’s also important for a research initiative that perhaps shouldn’t go forward, points out Brant Cooper of Moves the Needle, in the blog, “Identifying and Engaging Key Stakeholders to Get an Innovation Initiative Prioritized.” Consulting with stakeholders ahead of time, and identifying a project and canceling it quickly since it might not be aligned with the core business or its values, could save time, money and energy as well. Knowing your stakeholders might give you the knowledge to pivot.
Reaching out and recruiting stakeholders early is crucial. Communicate with them and address their concerns. Identify their goals. Stakeholders can provide information, resources, feedback and insight to a project as it moves towards its goals. Cooper notes, “Innovation leaders need to identify and engage stakeholders early and often because these influential team members have the ability to support, influence, or kill a project based on their beliefs about what a team might be working on and how the project affects their own goals.”
Identifying the stakeholders is the first key step. Just like you create an innovation plan and the solution you are striving for, create a plan for who to engage, advises Cooper. “To do this, think about the problem your team is aiming to solve and identify all of the potential business units who might be involved. Using this information, you can come up with a stakeholder map and a plan to educate the individuals on that list about what you are doing when it makes the most sense to do so.” Once you’ve mapped out your stakeholders, engage with them and get their buy-in and prioritization to move forward.
Meeting the Collective Intelligence
At FEI, All Things Innovation conducted a special roundtable, Achieving Transformational Innovation, bringing cross industry, cross disciplinarians together to talk about transformation and how to make it a reality. Transformational innovation, digital transformation, and the decision making around it.
Gaining stakeholders is a key part of the process. As Oscar Barranco Liebana, Innovation Director, FIFA World Cup 2022, puts it, “One important thing that we learned from the interaction of so many different stakeholders is that each organization has their own agenda, their own processes, and their own way of thinking. So, what we learned is that if we can maximize the collective intelligence from different stakeholders, we were improving the intelligence for innovation. And that means that we are breaking the silos, we’re breaking the processes, and the collective intelligence of the ‘super mind,’ what we call different stakeholders from different perspectives.”
TMRE will be held this year from October 23-25, at the Gaylord Rockies Event & Convention Center, Denver, CO. In the session, “Getting a Seat at the Table,” it’s all about the influence of insights. But much like innovation’s focus on stakeholders, explore how to build an insights culture that has influence and is an indispensable partner in driving consumer-centric thinking and guiding decisions. The session will be held by Christopher Frank, author, Co-Faculty Director, Columbia University, and Thomas Walker, Vice President, Global Consumer Insights, eBay.
The Steak & The Sizzle
Stakeholders play a crucial role in the process of innovation due to their diverse perspectives, influence, resources, and potential impact on the success of innovative initiatives. According to ChatGPT, here’s why stakeholders are important to the innovation process:
- Diverse Perspectives: Stakeholders represent a wide range of perspectives, including customers, employees, investors, partners, suppliers, regulatory bodies, and more. Their varied viewpoints provide valuable insights into different aspects of the innovation process, helping to identify potential opportunities, challenges, and risks.
- Feedback and Validation: Stakeholders can provide feedback on innovative ideas, concepts, and prototypes. This feedback helps refine and validate ideas, ensuring that they align with the needs and expectations of the target audience and market.
- Resource Allocation: Stakeholders often control or allocate resources such as funding, time, and expertise. Engaging stakeholders early in the innovation process allows for resource allocation and planning that supports the development and implementation of innovative solutions.
- Risk Mitigation: Stakeholders can help identify and address potential risks associated with innovation, whether they are financial, operational, legal, or related to market acceptance. Their input can lead to more informed risk assessment and mitigation strategies.
- Buy-In and Support: Innovative initiatives often require buy-in and support from various stakeholders to succeed. Engaging stakeholders early and involving them in the decision-making process increases their ownership and commitment, which can lead to smoother implementation.
- Expertise and Knowledge Sharing: Stakeholders bring their expertise and industry knowledge to the table. Their insights can provide a broader context for understanding market trends, technological advancements, and best practices, contributing to the development of more effective and relevant innovations.
- Networking and Partnerships: Stakeholders can facilitate valuable networking and partnership opportunities. Collaborating with stakeholders can lead to strategic alliances, joint ventures, or partnerships that enhance the innovation process through shared resources and complementary expertise.
- Alignment with Business Goals: Stakeholders help ensure that innovative initiatives align with the overall business strategy and goals. Engaging stakeholders in the innovation process helps maintain a clear connection between innovation efforts and the organization’s larger vision.
- Market Adoption and Acceptance: Stakeholders, especially customers, are often the end-users of innovative products or services. Involving them in the innovation process increases the likelihood of creating solutions that resonate with the market and are more likely to be adopted.
- Change Management: Innovation often brings about changes in processes, roles, and organizational culture. Engaging stakeholders helps manage the change effectively by addressing concerns, communicating benefits, and involving relevant parties in the transition.
Stakeholders are critical to the innovation process because they bring diverse perspectives, resources, expertise, and influence that contribute to the success and sustainability of innovative initiatives. Engaging stakeholders fosters collaboration, alignment, and a holistic approach to innovation that considers various factors necessary for its successful execution.
Engaging with stakeholders can lead to the creation of “innovation champions,” true partners and allies to your research and development projects. As Cooper reminds, “If this step is forgotten, valuable time might be wasted on developing products that are not strategically aligned with the core of the organization instead of spending that time on solving customer problems that fall within the realm of possibility.”
Video courtesy of Edward Shehab