A recent research conducted at Harvard Business School examined the causes behind lower adoption of ideas arising from open innovation among organizations, despite organizations stating that open innovation is a core part of their strategy to develop new product-service offerings. The findings revealed that the causes tend not to be technical in nature, but more politically and culturally inclined instead.

Click more on the image below to read the full research finding.

Cultivate Flexibility and Trust to Improve Product Innovation Adoption Within an Organization.

In order to address this issue, five strategies were outlined, summarized below.

  1. Create a multi-layered network. Create wide and dense network of contacts with people at all levels of an organization, instead of a single point of contact. Not only do larger interactions increase the chance of improving the idea, it also widens the stakeholder buy-in net and decreases the chance of an idea “dying” when single points of contact have been reassigned elsewhere.
  2. Foster equal ownership. Make sure that all stakeholders involved feel equal ownership and responsibility for the idea. To facilitate this, adopt an inquisitive, open communication approach and encourage stakeholders to contribute meaningfully to the discussion, no matter how small the contribution may be.
  3. Establish interim milestones. Structure implementation of ideas with interim milestones, effectively breaking down the project into more manageable chunks for all stakeholders. Not only does this make managing the project easier, it also allows the team to incorporate improvements based on on-going input and feedback.
  4. Build an open business case. Be ready to pivot an original idea when a dead end is met, which typically occurs when certain stakeholders with sufficient organizational weight withhold their buy-in. Pivot the idea to be more inclusive of their interests.
  5. Prototype early. Show tangible versions of your idea to stakeholders. Not only does this shorten the development lifecycle, people tend to value an idea more concretely when they can see, experience, and interact with it.

The key takeaway here is that this phenomena is not exclusive to adoption of product ideas, but to all ideas in general. The phenomena is typically more prevalent and pronounced in larger companies, where structure and bureaucracy have set in. Managing and obtaining stakeholders’ buy-in are critical to the adoption of new ideas, but typically do not receive enough serious attention from idea proposers. Try implementing the five strategies above if you’ve been struggling to get new ideas off the ground at your organization. Unfortunately, while an idea may indeed be great, people do not say yes to them from the get-go just because the idea is great.

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