We are in an era of rapid innovation. Everyone talks about new ways of doing things,
improving our ways of working, and living with constant change and development.
Yet recognising this truth gives us an opportunity to pinpoint the many cases where real,
meaningful innovation has made a positive impact on an organisation, and more importantly
ingredients to that success. Let’s look at the pieces of the puzzle that lead to tangible
innovation outcomes, because with the right pieces innovation can be measured, outcome-
driven and successful.
1) Defining the problem clearly
One of the biggest challenges that businesses face when trying to adopt innovation is the
lack of clarity about what really is the problem that they are trying to solve. Too often people
are ‘innovating for innovation’s sake’. Starting with something as vague as a problem
statement like "we are trying to reduce the time it takes us to get from A to B” is a good place
to start. There are many ways to find a solution to a problem, however being specific enough
to know what to look for without compromising the flexibility of the solution is the biggest
catch in setting up your project for success.
We spend a lot of time understanding our clients’ problem statements. With the abundance
of exceptional practitioners on our platform it can be tempting to try to force fit a problem into
a specific vertical, category or profile. However the right match is not always obvious and
can never be forced.
2) Metrics and Benchmarks
As basic as it sounds, many people fail to lay out the expected outputs, deliverables or
benchmarks before embarking on an innovation project. This is absolutely key to measuring
innovation. All activities that are involved in the innovation process should be linked to a
measurable outcome. Are you trying to improve internal processes? If so, what are the KPI’s
and what does success look like? If you are trying to innovate to build for opportunity, what
measures should be taken into account?
Having metrics in place is like having a compass to navigate change. Even though
innovation is hard to predict, it is easy to measure. All of those baseline indicators will be
helpful in guiding our steps towards progress. Constantly measuring against the metrics
means that we can adjust course when tactics don’t work, instead of waiting until the end of
3) Having the right people
In the corporate environment, everyone is familiar with the eternal battle of selling new
projects internally to stakeholders. One of the main takeaways from running corporate
accelerators at Slingshot, our parent company, has been to have the right people sitting at
the table when making decisions. And beyond that, have a team, department or leader own
the outputs of any innovation project.
It’s already hard to have a whole organisation agree on priorities for innovation ventures. It
becomes extremely difficult to produce outcomes when the results are not owned by a group
of individuals that are committed to delivering results internally and overall have no 'skin in
On top of having the right people on the bandwagon, it’s a huge boost to have the right
validation from someone who has already delivered a similar outcome for the business, or
even another organisation. As an example, bringing in a practitioner that has in-depth
knowledge of your industry, competitor landscape, and your current challenges can be a
powerful source of insights. Partnering with a Practitioner means that you can bring external
validation and expertise to actually deliver on meaningful, measurable outcomes.