Innovation Junkies Podcast

2.29 The Execution Phase of Innovation

In today’s episode, the Jeffs talk about how to implement innovative solutions. They chat about creating the right climate for sustained organizational change, empowering your team while promoting accountability and how to create buy-in internally and externally in your organization.

Jeff Standridge (Intro):
Are you ready to change the trajectory of your business and see massive improvements? Each week we’ll share strategies and practices to generate sustained results and long lasting success in your organization. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

Jeff Standridge:
Hey, guys. Jeff Standridge here. Welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

Jeff Amerine:
Hey, and it’s Jeff Amerine. I’m glad to be back. So, Jeff, give a little bit of background on the last couple of episodes. We’ve been talking about innovation, readiness, how we define innovation and some of the sort of rules of thumb of doing that well. We talked about a challenging sprint, which is a good way to start when you’re going down an innovative program process. Last time we talked about the design sprint, but all of that is leading up to something which is where the real tangible value and benefits are delivered, and that is this execution, sprint or implementation. Talk us through some of that.

Jeff Standridge:
I will, but before I do that, so I don’t forget like I did last episode, if you want to download a copy or you want to receive a copy of the Innovation Leadership Blueprint that really describes the end-to-end process that we’ve created to make innovation understandable, implementable, and a little bit more digestible within your organizations, go to and send us an email in the Contact us form and we’ll be happy to send you one of those. 

So we’re talking about implementing so we’ve we’ve, we’ve identified the problem. We’ve designed a solution that we’re confident works now, and now we’re ready to actually take it to the market, or we’re ready to take it inside our organization, if it’s more of an organizational innovation. And so what we have to first start with–and quite frankly, some of these things we’ve actually hit on throughout the other elements: leadership effectiveness, organizational effectiveness, operational effectiveness, etc. What we’ve hit on it is: you have to start with creating the right climate for having a sustained organizational change effort. You know, and that involves making sure you have the right team, not just the right solution-team that actually built the solution. It’s a different animal to implement a solution than it is to actually build a solution. And so you’re going to need to add a few more resources to your team. Folks who understand the organization, folks who are influencers within the organization, folks who may be some early adopters in the organization, some senior folks in the organization. So making sure you have the right team. 

Then secondly, making sure you have the right vision. If you’ll remember from our organizational effectiveness episode back several months ago, we defined vision for strategic planning purposes. And I think the vision for this is the same as that vision is a destination, a specific destination in the future, at which we desire to arrive at a particular date and time. And so what’s the right vision for this particular implementation? Are we going to do that over three months?

Are we going to do it over five months? What are the outcomes we’re expecting to get in return? What’s the actual destination of this execution or this implementation? Then we have to have a plan, you know, what do they say? Goals without plans are merely dreams, or something like that. You know, or wishes. You know, we can’t wait, we can’t afford to just have dreams and wishes here. We have to have a plan to actually execute on that implementation of that execution. And the next one then is what’s the right cadence? How are we going to monitor progress? How are we going to track progress? How are we going to come together to resolve issues, to ensure accountabilities, and what have you. And then, finally, what’s the right scorecard? How do we keep our finger on the pulse, our thumb on the pulse of this implementation or this execution to make sure that we are generating the returns that we expected, that we’re hitting all the points we need to hit, that we’re not hitting snafus or issues that we don’t know about because we don’t have the right measures in place.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, I mean, it’s so crucially important to do everything you describe. Well, because a lot of this requires behavior change, whether it’s an internal innovation or whether it’s something external that you’re trying to sell that’s new to the customers, you’ve got to have buy-in and you’ve got to kind of pull the people along. And it’s like any other sort of mindset.

You have people that are going to be more accepting and supportive just because that’s their point of view and their framework of mind. You’re going to also have people that are on the other end of the spectrum that are resistant to change. The perception is it’s going to make it more difficult. And so having all of those components a good solid plan, a good communication strategy, irregular cadence and good measures is really important in the stage.

A lot of times organizations do really well on these first two, the challenge sprint or that early conception, getting some things together, doing the design and then they fall all over themselves. They’re overrun and it’s not successful or adopted by the organization because they haven’t done this part you just described well. Crucially important for sure.

Jeff Standridge:
It is, and, you know, we talked about if you’re going to launch an innovation program you have to understand that you’re running two initiatives in parallel, the innovation component, but also the organizational transformation, the organizational change component. Well, when you’re looking at the actual implementation of an innovation, that organizational transformation component is extremely important. So this entire phase has to have strong leadership. Who’s someone who’s respected and credible in the organization, a part of that right team, and part of that right vision. We’ve got to have that clarity and focus. We’ve got to have that accountability. We’ve got to have the empowered, the empowering culture where people feel like they can make mistakes in this implementation, but still be accountable for the milestones along the way. So making sure we create the right climate is absolutely critical. 

Then we move into building that base of support. How do we actually start to create some momentum there? 

And the first one there is to actively engage the early adopters, right? So who are the early adopters and users that we want to get activated and we want to get engaged in the process because those early adopters are going to be the ones who are primarily motivated for it to succeed because we’ve identified them specifically. And so it’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. You don’t roll it out to your most skeptical people in the organization. You roll it out to your most optimistic to those folks who are always early adopters, influencers in the organization, and that begins to create that self-fulfilling prophecy we said. 

Then you want to engage your other customers and key stakeholders, saving those skeptics to last. So, early adopters, kind of middle of the road people, get some success under your belt, then the skeptics. You want to communicate–go ahead. You were about to say something.

Jeff Amerine:
I was gonna say, if you get those first two groups heading the right direction and feeling good about it, then the evidence can overwhelm the skeptics and the saboteurs. A lot of times, folks that are skeptical, they all come from Missouri, they say, show me. And sometimes they’re skeptical with good reason, right? Maybe they’ve had some bad experiences in the past. But when you have overwhelming evidence that you can get with the early adopters and that next group that follows them, the fast followers, then the skeptics and the saboteurs will be muted because you’ll have good evidence to support what you do.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. You know, you want to have a preplanned, well-thought out communication plan that includes using every channel of communication available to you within your organization, which the least effective of which is very long written emails. So, what are the ways that you’re going to communicate and then use every channel at your disposal to communicate early, to communicate often? Making sure you have this drumbeat, as I’ve heard you say before, this drumbeat of communication that’s going out there to make sure that people understand what’s coming, where we are, how it’s going, what do we need to expect next?

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, constant reinforcement.

Jeff Standridge:
The constant reinforcement. You make sure that you create this environment of empowerment with accountability. So we’re empowered where it makes sense. Maybe there are some slight adaptations we can use in our particular area because it makes sense for us. So we’re going to be empowered. What is it they say? In the nonessential–no, no, in the essentials, unity and in the non-essentials, charity. So let’s figure out what the nonessentials and what the essentials are of this implementation. And let’s allow some empowerment to to customize in fine tune where it makes sense, department by department or or client by client. But let’s also be accountable for those things that are the essentials, so to speak. 

And then finally, with this building, this base of support, we want to find the quick wins kind of synonymous with engaging those early adopters. We want to find those quick wins. We want to celebrate those quick wins, and we want to  make sure that everybody in the organization, or everybody in the market knows through press releases and internal memos and whatever–again, communication channels we have at our disposal to get, so to speak, third-party endorsement that we’re being successful in this implementation. So leverage those quick wins. And that’s the second part of the execution–create the right climate then you build this base of support while you’re rolling it out. 

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s it’s it’s a crucial part of the process and I think the other thing I’d say is look back, we talked about the fundamentals that you need to learn the challenge sprints, the design sprints, the execution phase. This is not a one time thing in a sort of a singular innovation program. A lot of times we’ll come in and facilitate all of these phases, but we haven’t done our job well in Innovation Junkie if we haven’t given that organization the tools that they can carry forward and make this part of the culture, part of their process, to do it repeatedly so that every time that when they’re thinking it’s time to refresh or it’s time to roll out new products or services, they’ve got this understandable toolkit and process to do innovation effectively that gets implemented and is successful along the way. So it’s definitely the right way to do it for sure.

Jeff Standridge:
You know, and then the final stage, if you will, of this last phase, the execution or the implementation phase is about making it stick. And this is where it converts from a project to a process. You know, a project has a start and a stop. A process is continuous. So think about a continuous circle. At the top of the circle you’re constantly assessed. You’re going to always be looking for are we producing the outcomes that we anticipated? Is it behaving in the way that we expected it to behave? If it’s a software process, product project, what have you, is it behaving in the manner that we anticipated that we plan for? But to use the words of Jim Collins, we’re going to then face the brutal facts. If it’s not behaving in the manner that we planned it, we’re not going to send out a bunch of propaganda to the contrary. 

We’re going to face those brutal facts. We’re going to acknowledge that in order to maintain credibility with our client base. And we’re going to fix those things, and then we’re going to be much more keen to monitor and adjust as we go along. So you imagine always assess, face the facts or confront the facts, monitor and adjust where we need to monitor and adjust. We’re going to celebrate when we begin to hit significant milestones and we see one more milestone comes after the other, whether that’s client adoption milestones, its organizational success milestones or its the outcomes that get produced.

And then finally, we’re going to constantly evolve based upon those other stages. That’s the way we make it stick. That’s the final element in our execution or implementation of an innovation or new process. Create the right climate, build a base of support and make it stick.

Jeff Amerine:
And if you never, you make it stick, you can transition from having an isolated island of innovators to having a culture of innovation in any size organization.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. And what we’ve been covering over the course of the last three or four weeks is our proprietary Innovation Leadership blueprint. It’s subtitled How to Disrupt the Status Quo, Create 

Massive Value and Generate Sustained Results. And we’ve got that available for free, if you’ll go to Send us an email using the contact form and we’d be glad to flip you a copy of that Innovation Leadership Blueprint.

Thank you for joining this episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. Talk to you soon.

Jeff Amerine:
We’ll see you next time.

Jeff Amerine (Outro):
Feedback from listeners like you helps us create outstanding content. So if you like this episode, be sure to rate us or leave a review. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest growth and innovation strategies. Thanks for tuning in to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

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