Setting the scene

While entering 2022, I reflected (probably together with all of you) on last year or even on the past decade that I’ve spent in the domain of innovation and idea management. With three businesses on the record and so much experience and knowledge gained, I made my new year’s resolution straightforward: I want to share my knowledge internationally and help more companies by improving and optimizing the way they practice and implement innovation in their organization. Because one thing did not change for me in the last decade, innovation will always be the catalysator of your company in surviving and thriving. Even now more than ever. We also all know that improvement comes with a step-by-step approach. So, my first step in 2022 is easy by starting a blog series on LinkedIn.

In short and pragmatic articles, I want to share tips and tricks which you can start using the minute you are done reading. In the upcoming days, I will start sharing 10 tips for organizing successful innovation campaigns. Let’s kick it off by setting the scene and getting aligned on the definition of an Innovation Campaign and the four key phases.

First things first…What is an innovation campaign?

An innovation campaign is a step-by-step approach for collecting and selecting ideas from a target audience. It’s set up to gather ideas from different audiences, inside or even outside the organization. This approach fosters creativity and enables you to select the best ideas, solutions, concepts that will solve specific business challenges within your organization.

The main advantage of an innovation campaign approach is that you can better track the activities to compare its results with other Innovation Campaigns and learn, improve or discover trends. The next bonus is that all of the activities you set in motion are integrated into one campaign. Look at it as a marketing campaign where you measure input, conversion, and results in one uniform way. To conclude, an innovation campaign is a great way to generate and select ideas that will help your organization move forward.

Campaign or Challenge?

On a side note: the terms Campaign and Challenges are often get mixed up. We like to use the term Challenge when we focus on communicating a question to a specific target audience. When we talk about the whole project from an innovative perspective, we prefer the term Campaign. One campaign can consist of one or multiple challenges. For example, a campaign with the title: ‘The next level of Sustainability’, can have multiple challenges: Ideas for travel and transport, ideas for energy saving, ideas for lowering waste in the production, etc.

Now we’ve set the scene I do want to add four phases that contribute to a successful innovation campaign

The 4 key phases

The 4 key phases of a successful innovation campaign are: Preparation, Challenge, Selection and Results.

1. Preparation

Of course, with everything you do when it comes down to setting up campaigns or projects, decent preparation is key. Be sure the challenge is formulated crisp and clear, and it comes with a proper briefing and communication plan to have all stakeholders informed and aligned on what will happen. This is certainly not a one-off kind of thing. You need a structured way of communication that will lead to engagement and commitment of all those involved. That’s why it’s important to have your (internal or external) target audience defined upfront, to make sure you have the right buy-in, commitment, and support to get this innovation implemented in an efficient timely manner.

2. Challenge

The challenge or need that needs to be solved is the most important part of it all. If you don’t have this formulated, scripted, and supported with the right cases, you are already off on the wrong foot. You need to spend time on this to make sure everybody understands the ask without any room for interpretation or unclarities. Launching the challenge is of course the next best thing to get the party started.

3. Selection

Defining selection criteria for multiple rounds where people can select, like, discard ideas will help you create a clear route towards the one idea that will crack the case and get implemented. Having different target audiences involved in each round establishes a support base.

4. Results

And yes, it’s all about the results in the end. So, make sure you are communicating about these results. Give the organization a clear view of what’s going to happen and how and give recognition to those involved in the journey. Make sure to create a final report, not only to have it spread to all stakeholders but to optimize and learn for your next Innovation Campaign!

It all sounds logical, but the key is to go through all these phases prepared, with the right audience, and on a detailed level. Don’t take shortcuts because it will bite you in the ass in the end for sure.

Next post we’ll dive deeper into those details as we go through the 10 tips for organizing successful innovation campaigns.