How CIOs can help the innovation process

The innovation process always begins with an idea. In order for those ideas to grow into successful innovations, CEOs and CIOs must define a process that allows ideas to be collected, nurtured and refined.

In Forrester’s Innovation Playbook, this is defined as the innovation PACT. It includes a robust ideation process, a number of influential innovation advocates, a powerful culture of innovation, and easy-to-use innovation technology (see figure).

Ideation reduces friction between idea and implementation
When it comes to the ideation process, there are a few characteristics that are necessary to help reduce the friction between ideas and implementation.

 1 Innovative companies see the process of creating ideas as a continual activity. Therefore, the process that is built needs to encourage the continuous flow of ideas in order to help foster a culture of innovation.
 2 The innovation process must fertilize ideation with the right information. The best ideas come from highly targeted challenges, usually ones where people are asked to solve a specific problem.
 3 The ideation process must allow bad ideas to be quickly and easily filtered, without killing off potentially good ideas too early. Too much rigor and you risk stifling innovation, too little and good ideas are starved of attention and funds.

For ideas to continue to move through the innovation PACT, they are dependent upon the presence of strong advocates who can help deflect the natural resistance to change inherent in every organization.

Advocates must have high energy and cannot be easily deterred by the pesssimistic mindset.

Instead, advocates need to see the potential and encourage others to collaborate and refine the idea.

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Most importantly, advocates must be experts at finding ways to overcome the inertia built into many organizations.

These advocates find ways to make change easier and remove the barriers people tend to throw up in the way of change.

An innovation culture creates the right climate for ideas to grow
These barriers consistent throughout many organizational cultures often act as roadblocks to innovation. Creating an innovation culture is imperative to the ideation process.

Forrester’s Innovation Playbook defines the four attributes of an innovation culture as:

 - Trust
 - Acceptance of failure
 - Flexibility
 - Open communications

While all four attributes are critical to ideation, how the company deals with failure is the most critical.

Creating an innovative culture requires a structure that supports rapid failure. For example, Google engineers are required to allocate 20 per cent of their time on any project idea of their own choosing.