In today’s competitive business landscape, businesses should already understand the significant emphasis on implementing innovation and leading change across their enterprise on a regular basis. Developing market-leading products, ensuring business process improvements, implementing new patient care models, executing ground-breaking strategies, looking for new markets – these all offer substantial potential to increase market share, efficiency, and gain competitive advantage.
But as with many businesses, the common challenge is that innovation in and of itself can be complex. It usually involves large-scale and highly complex organizational change, with multiple inter-dependencies. The challenge of actually implementing innovation is arguably just as difficult as the process of creating innovation itself!
Today, we’ll take a look at the crucial role of innovation in leading change in organizations, especially in today’s digital age and post-pandemic era.
Benefits of Change & Innovation implementation within an Organization
Just in case we haven’t gotten the buy-in as an employer or employee to understand how important and significant leading change & innovation is within our organization, here are a couple of benefits to (hopefully) finally be convinced.
As an employer, the benefits will include:
- Enhanced employee engagement
- Increased sustainability and long-standing impact
- Increased return on your change investment
As an employee, the benefits will include:
- Enhanced involvement in the implementation of the change
- Reduced stress and a greater sense of control
- More flexibility in working
Therefore, whichever role you play (whether an employer or employee), the organizational benefits are aplenty.
Additionally, the core overall benefits of leading change and innovation within an organization will include:
- Enhanced productivity
- Superior control over the process
- Improved return out of investment
- Channelized process
- High-impact productivity
- Coping up with the changing market and consumer behaviour dynamics
Challenges & Risks that come about with implementing Change & Innovation in your Organization
Inevitably, there will be risks and challenges that come along while leading change and implementing innovation within your organization.
Here’s a few common challenges to note when you’re set on leading change and innovation in your organization (but fret not while being informed of these challenges, read on for the solutions to resolve these with greater ease!)
1. Resistance is the number one challenge
Your employees may already have adapted well to their existing situations, and they might not respond well or be eager to adapt to the new changes implemented. They might even fear losing their jobs, if the change involves process automation, or prompting of employees to learn an entirely new skill with a steep learning curve. Employees may also experience change fatigue, which is when they face a general sense of apathy or passive resignation towards organizational changes by individuals or teams.
2. Strong Leadership is essential to introduce Change
A successful change strategy requires good planning, but it also requires the drive of a good leader leading change and innovation withing the organization. A change leader will need to know how to minimize chaos once a change is being implemented, and ensure the change strategy is supported throughout the organization, with everyone understanding what is trying to be achieved. (Read on to know what it takes to be well equipped as a Change Champion / Leader!)
3. Disruption may crop up
Operational disruption is yet another challenge, which might crop up at the time, and during change. A small consulting company might only need to upgrade their existing software to bring innovation and change. However, a big or medium size company might face a lot of disruption when it comes to changing enterprise planning software of its own.
Essential Elements to guarantee True Success of Change & Innovation Planning
With the layout of the possible challenges and risks that may arise while leading change and innovation, it is necessary to understand that training, planning, and management are crucial components that collectively ensure true success of a change and innovation planning.
Poorly managed change brings an organization to its toes, whereas an effectively managed change changes the fortune of an organization. But now the question that floats to mind is, “How do I do it properly, hopefully with little effort but more positive impact?”
Receive Coaching from MIT Certified Innovation & Design Thinking Master Coach on Leading Change & Innovation in your Organization:
3 Key Steps to go from Innovation to Implementation
Step 1: Identify the innovation(s) you want to see happen.
For any innovation to truly be impactful, it has to address a real need within your organization. To give you a head start, begin by brainstorming with these few questions before taking the initial steps to implement any innovative change:
- Will this innovation solve a problem we are facing?
- Does the solution to our problem already exist?
- Who will this innovation benefit?
- Does our association have the resources to support this innovation?
- How will we know this innovation is a success?
Step 2: Get the right people involved
To get an idea into action, you need someone reliable to begin leading change and innovation. Appoint a change champion to lead and implement your new idea, someone who is organized, driven and invested in bringing the idea to fruition. This may be your CEO, but not always. While the CEO’s support and involvement is essential, they don’t need to take the lead on each individual project for it to be successful. Depending on the idea and what aspects of the association are involved, it may make the most sense for a department or committee head to take the lead. For example, if the idea is to add a new print magazine to your association’s overall communications strategy, your director of communications could, and most likely should, be your decision-maker.
Additionally, it may be a good idea to create a short-term committee or task force focused solely on implementing your innovation and leading change, and the immediate aftermath. It will be good to keep the members of this committee or task force to a small group of members representing different aspects / key job functions of your organization. This will offer you a clear view of how different staff from various job functions may be affected by the changes and innovation implemented and allow you to address any questions and concerns earlier on in the process. Committee members can offer insight and ideas beyond the initial concept based on their own experiences and knowledge.
Finally, before implementing the change management plan, this committee or task force could assist to step in and reinforce how this innovation will bring positive change to the organization. This will help ease the employees to get the buy-in for the changes to come, and counter any resistance that might be faced by the employees when the news of change breaks. Create a plan for how you will share this new idea you’ve implemented. Attempt to build buzz and excitement, and be clear how your innovation will benefit everyone.
Step 3: Test, evaluate and regularly analyse at every step of the plan
The final step is to frequently monitor the progress of your innovation throughout its development, and then for a period of time after it has been implemented. Remember that implementation on its own is not full success.
In your change management plan, set the bar for what success should look like early on using measurable standards that you can re-evaluate in the short and long term. Then begin testing on a small scale and increase the size of your test groups as you get closer to implementation. Use the data collected through that to continually build on and improve your original idea as you go through the process of leading change and innovation within your organization.
Additionally, it’ll be helpful to survey employees after they’ve had a chance to use the innovation in practice in their work or daily lives. Get their feedback on the success they’ve been seeing and experiencing through multiple choice and open-ended questions. Between the data coming in and real-world stories from your members, you will eventually get a complete picture of how your innovation is truly impacting your employees and organization on a whole.
Final tip to be a successful change champion, if you have tested, evaluated, and analysed results and surveys during and in the months of implementation, and find that you’re not meeting the bare minimum of what you’ve determined is a successful outcome… You have to be willing to walk away. This may be difficult, especially for you as a Change Champion leading change and innovation within your organization. But innovation and change for the sake of it doesn’t move your organization forward. Don’t be afraid to fail when it comes to innovation, remember that it is necessary. Instead, take the lessons learned and focus your time and energy on pushing out other improvements or innovations in your pipeline.
We hope that this article has been useful in giving you useful tips and ideas to leading change and innovation within your organization in 2020 and 2021. Even though the beginning may be difficult (as with all other things), the rewards that you and your organization will receive at the end of it, when change and innovation is executed well, will be worth it!