How do you innovate, when you cannot meet?

The current Corona pandemic highlights how beneficial a digital operation mode can be!

Written by Morten Benn
March 3rd, 2020

The outbreak and spreading of COVID-19 have put the world in a state of emergency. In the fight to keep the new virus under control, businesses have had to cancel important travels, meetings and workshops. For global companies with a high degree of distributed knowledge and an analogue operation model, the current epidemic could put a severe hold on their innovation pipeline and future growth.

At times when you cannot physically meet and work together, it becomes evident why it is so crucial to have a well-functioning digital innovation infrastructure in place. You will be surprised how a good digital platform and process can replace many workshops and meetings, as well as help you scale your innovation efforts. 

Why a well functioning digital innovation infrastructure is so important

Although we have seen great attempts for systematizing and digitizing innovation, in many places innovation still happens in a rather analogue way; at the coffee machine or in workshops, conferences and meetings. The problem arises when the analogue way is the only way we innovate. Why? Because the analogue way has a limited scope and it is often dominated by the extroverted form of ideation, where the loudest voice in the room wins the day. We know, however, that often the best ideas are developed by combining a multitude of profiles, experiences and cultures (Hewlett, Marshall and Sherbin, HBR 2013). 

In contrast, a digital infrastructure ensures that ideation can be scaled. It can reach those that are not present on a specific day, but might have valuable insights, as well as give people beyond the usual suspects, the chance to be heard. Digitally supported processes ensure diversity, are not time-zone restricted and can be free of hierarchy restrictions. 

How can you start building or improving your current digital innovation infrastructure 

Today, many large companies already have digital platforms in place to support interaction between people spread across many locations. Some of them even have specific platforms for idea management and innovation. However, having a digital platform for innovation is just one part of the equation. The difficult part is to make the platform the epicentre for innovation to happen - a place that colleagues know of, participate in, trust and find value in. A place that is supported by and frequently visited by managers. Over the years we have seen some good examples of companies succeeding, but in many cases, we also see a lot of untapped potential.

So what can you do?

  1. Get a digital platform, if you don’t already have one - See how
  2. Start building a culture for innovation - See how
  3. Make innovation visible and start spreading it in your organization - See how 

Want to know more about how you can succeed in building your digital innovation infrastructure? - Morten is happy to talk to you.

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