“innovation” with a lower case “i”
What does innovation mean to you? Do you think of major developments in products and processes? Sure, that’s vital for some companies. Let’s call that “Innovation with an upper-case I.”
By contrast, there’s another form of innovation that I think is overlooked. It’s improvements in the day-to-day elements of work. Processes, outputs, relationships, and communications. ALL companies can benefit from these. We’ll call it “innovation with a lower-case i.” Here’s what I mean.
Lower-Case-i-innovation can be the difference between winning and losing a new business pitch. It can make the pitch team more focused and more engaged by streamlining communications and shortening approval delays. It can put useful guardrails around your creative thinking.
Lower-Case-i-innovation can help you attract and retain talent. Take Millennials. Allowing them to challenge the status quo will stimulate their best thinking. They’ll be able to apply their strengths in ways that meet their personal goals.
And Lower-Case-i-innovation will differentiate you, helping you win and retain clients.
Don’t think small improvements in day-to-days ops are important? Then consider this:
Wouldn’t you love to see better forms of communication, new insights, stronger relationships, and more clarity around strategy and execution?
So, how do you get it done?
The elements of Upper-Case-I-Innovation are well documented. Here’s an excellent summation from a Sept 2017 article in HBR. Now, consider how these processes can be successfully applied to Lower-Case i-innovation.
- Do you make Lower-Case-i-innovations a priority in your organization? Or are too many resources diverted to the Upper-Case-I-Innovations that have really long turnaround times and worse odds of success?
- Do you have champions for Lower-Case-i-innovation projects? Someone who will look after them, get resources, ensure they get attention?
- Do you allow an incubation period? Does it have to work right out of the box, or are you willing to try it out, gather feedback and refine it?
- Do you have a plan for integrating these small improvements into the rest of the organization? Or will these changes sit isolated within the group that developed them?
The ROI on Lower-Case-i-innovation can be amazing, whether measured in dollars or employee engagement. You’re smart to encourage it. Support those efforts with assertive processes.
Innovations in the New Business Pitch
A client recently retained me to help create a high-stakes presentation. In one of our early conversations, he said his team was struggling with the development of a “theme” for the pitch. “We focus on getting the theme early in the pitch development process,” he said. “For some reason, we can’t nail this one.”
If they’ve been landing on themes that early in the process, they’ve been lucky. The team needed a new process. Themes are vital. But they should emerge after deep consideration of what the decision-makers need to hear, the key messages the team needs to deliver, and most importantly a storyline that pulls it together into a memorable, persuasive, seamless pitch. When all that is together, the theme usually identifies itself.
So, the solution put in place was an innovative pitch development process. The new process changed the sequence in which pitch elements are developed. It also changed the mindset of the pitch team about how pitch content is developed. By challenging expectations, we developed a new and powerful (and winning) pitch, with a theme that was spot on for the decision-makers.
Facing similar challenges? Give us a shout at Info@WiesnerCG.com.