In our recent Master Class, Jennifer Dunn shares ten tips to revitalize a languishing innovation program. During the call, the she explores:

  • Leveraging a corporate innovation canvas to guide initiatives
  • Knowing and working with an initiative’s audience
  • Best practices for open innovation.

Dunn is the Director Customer Success at HYPE Innovation. Two highlights from the conversation follow.

The Importance of Strategy Building

Jennifer Dunn: Strategy building is really focused on helping organizations gather insights from the outside world through environmental scanning, maybe combining insights into topic clusters, and then eventually, into corporate roadmaps. 

Our first conversation should be around getting consensus on “What is it that we’re trying to do?” … Is that incremental? Is that strategic? Is that radical? And is this the mix that we want?

We think about which topics are aligned with our corporate strategic plan. There’s definitely a balance to be struck when you’re defining the scope of your program. A lot of times leadership is going to be most interested in the strategic or radical ideas, while maybe the culture or the maturity of our organization could mean that the crowd is going to be uncertain or even uncomfortable in some of those conversations.

Knowing Your Audience

Jennifer Dunn: Once we’ve got our strategy, we’ve got our resources in place, and we’ve got the key stakeholders kind of bought in, we want to think about our audience. So are we involving the right people? This is a critical piece of your planning. … Improve the diversity of your audience by thinking about involving parties upstream and downstream. A lot of times these individuals are far and away enough from the subject that they can ask questions to which the insiders already know. So this is helpful in breaking the human tendency known as functional fixedness. And this is where an object or a situation is perceived in a specific way, to the exclusion of any alternative.

We also use something we call the near-far-sweet principle to ensure that your efforts are going to generate ideas that are sufficiently distance from your current situation for them to be interesting and close enough to our core competencies to be feasible.