Adopt a Strategic Methodology to Guide Innovation
You may want to consider adopting one of the strategic methodologies developed to guide the innovation cycle in your organization. There are plenty of resources freely available on the Web to help managers to get started. For example, I follow the Competing Values Framework (CVF) from Jeff DeGraff, Clinical Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, which advocates ambidextrous leadership through four competing values.
The realities of the recession have certainly raised stress levels for everyone. But if people are engaged, are generating creative ideas and seeing the results of their innovation quickly, then job satisfaction and productivity will be high. To drive value creation forward, develop a tactile system where people feel the impact of their innovation quickly.
Share the long and short-term goals of the company, and let each member of your team know how they can help to achieve these goals. When employees feel that they are an integral part of the company's success, they will be even more committed. People work in a technology company to increase the value of the company and thereby increase value for themselves. If there's a system to support innovation, people will take ownership for driving the value of the company.
It is a sad reality that, in this economy, many a company will reduce commitment to innovation-the very key to thriving in a tough economy. Yet the recession, however challenging, is only temporary. Every manager has the opportunity to empower the bottom-up innovation we all need to drive recovery-and competitive advantage-for our companies.
While many managers try to focus on cost cutting and improving margins, smart managers know that great companies can be built in a recession. They know that the secret to building a great company is to focus on the innovation cycle. The innovation cycle is an upward growth spiral.
Innovation creates product differentiation, differentiation creates significantly higher margins, and higher margins create a fund for further innovations-snowballing into a healthy, continual growth cycle. Empowering people to become innovation activists is the key to not only surviving these economic challenges, but also emerging stronger.