The Best Ways to Communicate Innovation Activities?

July 20, 2018

During a recent in-person briefing at IL headquarters in Boston, a member of the InnoLead community asked the following question:

“We find it hard to get the attention of our colleagues when it comes to sharing what the innovation program is trying to achieve — and how they can get involved. What are some of the most effective ways to communicate what the innovation team is up to?”

See below for a collection of advice and answers to this question.

Have a question that you’d like to ask our community? Post it in our members-only Slack channel, or see if it’s already been answered on our FAQ Page.

Board games: Why insurance firm Assurant designed a strategy game for employees to play

      • Seriously, can getting employees to play a board game actually get them to better understand the company’s strategy — and the need for innovation and growth?

Videos: How EMC reignited its innovation program

      • EMC broadcast the results of its latest idea challenge to employees, borrowing the format of the reality show “Shark Tank.” Here’s an 80-minute video that explains how the Innovation Roadmap works, and details the top three “best in show” ideas.

Videos: How a video series is spreading innovation at Thomson Reuters

      • Cary Burch explains: “People get various emails and communications at Thomson Reuters, and they may read blog posts. But we felt video would be a good medium to share the passion and intrigue of innovation, so we created this channel on our internal Hub site, The Innovation Network, to turn the camera on innovators who are working day in and day out to achieve results on their innovation. They may be developing new processes, new ways to increase customer satisfaction, or creating new products that solve customer needs.”

Videos: AECOM shares an innovation video it uses with new hires

      • Warick Absolon explains: “We wanted to show people at AECOM that innovation isn’t just about creating something you can patent. It can also be making our clients, colleagues, or competitors go, ‘Wow, I wish I thought of that.'”

Comic book: Why Lowe’s Innovation Lab hired sci-fi writers to guide its strategy

      • How’s this for a daring career move? Kyle Nel, the Executive Director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, hired a team of science fiction writers, asked them to envision the future of home improvement, and then turned their ideas into a comic book. He brought the book to a meeting of the retailer’s senior executives and asked them to read through it.

Annual Report: The Innovation Acceleration Program at Boston Children’s Hospital

      • Naomi Fried explains: “The biggest challenge of stepping into this role was getting people’s attention, and getting them interested in innovation. I had support from senior leadership in putting me in front of the right people, at the right gatherings. In the absence of that, it’d be really hard to create a program that affects the whole hospital, if you don’t have a way to get the message out there. Getting in front of people at meetings they have are already going to is a great way to connect. You can’t rely on posters and signs.”
        “Each year, we put out a progress report. It’s aimed at our clinical and administrative leadership, as well as our innovators, to put a spotlight on what we’ve achieved in the past year. It’s also intended to inspire anyone who hasn’t been an innovator yet.”

Keychain: How Fidelity Investments Used a Key Ring to Capture Project Learnings

      • What happens after you run the debrief on a project you’ve completed? Often, there’s a whiteboard full of learnings, or a few documents stashed away in a directory somewhere. Usually, only the most dedicated information archaeologist can unearth them a year or two later.
        At Fidelity Investments, the Fidelity Labs innovation team came up with a clever way to capture what they learned from a project that launched in 2016: a key ring full of questions and prompts that they can use in their daily work going forward.

Tips: Communicating Innovation at Bloomberg

    • How do you make sure that innovation activity and achievements don’t get lost in the noise of the day-to-day?
    • That’s a big part of Chaim Haas’ role as Head of Innovation Communication at the privately held finance, media, and technology company Bloomberg. Bloomberg is one of many large companies that have significant investments in engineering and product development, but haven’t always showcased that work to the rest of the organization — or to external stakeholders.