Communicating Your Innovation Program

Like everything else in today’s business environment getting your message across is key. Whether you are marketing a new offering, an internal memo to to your staff for new business objectives, or technical specs for a an exciting invention, having a proper communications plan in place is essential to getting your message across. With that in mind, having a cohesive communications plan in place for an Innovation program is critical for the long term success of innovation within your organization.

In Order to communicate your Innovation program to your staff there are 4 main stages to structuring your communication plan. These stages are;

  1. Pre-Launch
  2. Launch
  3. Post Launch
  4. Challenge Driven Communications

Pre-Launch

Pre-Launch communications is one of the most important phases. If an organization is launching an innovation program (for the first time) it is vital that senior management communicate to its employees what their expectations are for the program.   Employees should be advised of the goals for the program and how they are expected to contribute to the innovation initiative. Measurable targets should be set, and this information should be shared with all staff members. Measurable targets would include items such as expected cost savings in dollars (or percentage of revenue), revenue generating goals and improvements to existing processes (in terms of time saving).

Rather than communicating your program with an e-mail, go back to the basics. Use posters in areas frequented by employees. Have merchandise such as coffee mugs and pens with the url to the innovation platform. Company newsletters are also an excellent vehicle to create buzz around the upcoming program.

Typically, your Innovation program will utilize software such as Planbox Innovate (www.planbox.com) to facilitate the program. Ensure that employees are aware of the link and any communications on your company’s intranet have the proper link to the software.

Launch

The day has arrived! You are ready to go live with your innovation program. At this phase of communications you want to change the focus on what tools you will be using and what the submitter should expect in terms of her user experience. Highlight the process. What actions will trigger email notifications, what are the different stages of your process and what is the time frame for these stages. It is important that the user knows what their expectations are and when they should be advised of changes to the stages of their submission. It is very important that the user understands the process and does not feel that submitting an idea will just go into a black hole.

Another key component of your Innovation plan should be Gamification. This makes the process fun and encourages users to return to the platform. Gamification awards should be clearly communicated to employees. For information on how to design a reward system, please refer to the Planbox guide How to Gamify Innovation. that can be downloaded from https://planbox.com/resources.

Post Launch

During this phase you want to communicate the successes realized as a result of your program. Show how an employee’s suggestion resulted in savings, improved a process or generated additional revenue. For a innovation program to be successful transparency is key. If there are changes to the innovation process or awards structure make sure that these changes are communicated in a timely fashion. Make Sure a user’s expectation are met at all times.

Additionally you innovation software should always have a fresh look. Changes to the home page of the platform should be done on a regular basis. If your platform has content housed on it ensure that the content is updated regularly.

Challenge-Driven

Introducing challenged driven campaigns and theme based idea generation and development is an effective way of keeping things fresh and interesting. It also enables you to address relevant and timely issues in a responsive, opportunistic and proactive fashion. Challenge Driven Innovation is an excellent mechanism to sustaining a high level of user engagement. Challenges should be frequent and communicated to the employee base via your company’s intranet or newsletters.

You can access the full innovation program communications guide here. The Guide to Challenge-driven Innovation is also an interesting and informative introduction on how to design and manage a challenge-driven innovation management system.

Implementing these simple yet effective steps in communicating your Innovation program and process will yield tangible results. A little planning will go a long way!