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Enroll the Skeptics Early

After working on hundreds of innovation projects, one fact remains. If you


cannot get executive sponsorship of the final concepts, they will never
launch. We recommend a few steps to get leadership engaged in solving the
problem with you as part of the process. Therefore, they will feel invested in
the outcome of the innovations in the marketplace.
Set up a meeting to unpack the starting assumptions of the Innovation
Project. Make sure you include time to think about unthinkable things. For
example, if the company needs a new product, make sure you include time to
ideate on different business models. Also, provide the context to free
everyone of their current paradigm and boundaries.
We like to use a simple exercise called What Will Get Us Fired, and we
encourage wild thinking. Have your team begin by thinking about all types of
illicit, weird, and shadowy things they are not allowed to voice normally.
Then, make their minds stretch into solutions thinking. Have them pair up,
pick the wildest ones, and then flip the concepts on their head, and transform
them into a concept the market would accept. Once they witness the process,
they will understand that awesome breakthroughs often sit right next to
ridiculous.
Then, re-write their role. Instead of setting them up to analyze the results at
the end of the process in a PASS/FAIL or YES/NO dynamic, have them check in
as part of a team invested in something that will enhance the companys top
line and make it brand a leader. Call them an Action Team or a Realization
Team, something inherently collaborative and additive.
Check in at key points. After all of the Empathy and fieldwork is complete,
give them a window into the insights. Likewise, after the Define phase is
complete, connect the dots for them, let them help wordsmith the reframing
of the findings so they have genuine ownership in solving the right problem.
Use their expertise. Lets say one member is in the legal department, one is
in RnD, one is in business development, and another works in regulatory
affairs. After the Ideation phase is complete and consumer desirability has
been validated for concepts in a series of prototype Co-Creations, then enroll
them at their level of expertise by asking them to help figure out how to
make these possible solutions technically feasible and market viable. We
have witnessed naysayers transformed into complex problem solvers on the
widest array of issues: chemistry, technology, claims work, etc.
Many members of this group are pre-amped to say no, here is why it wont
work, and this habitual knee-jerk response has caused billions of dollars to
be left on Innovations cutting room floor. By getting their enrollment early,
and by making them part of the process and solution, they work toward,
rather than against, new products and solutions.