Although innovation programs are becoming more and more embedded within the enterprise, it is still very common to find organizations that are just starting to experiment with formal, continuous innovation programs. Many IdeaScale clients that come to us are quietly launching pilot programs as proof-of-concept initiatives that will confirm innovation value for senior leadership.

This is great and not entirely surprising, because innovation is often the product of those visionary, lone wolf intrapreneurs who know that they must be seeking the competitive edge and new revenue streams even if others aren’t actively looking for those things.

However, the challenge for these visionaries is that they often find themselves needing to know a great deal more than they were prepared for. They have to be able to assess strengths and weaknesses, they have to be building adjacent competencies (like roadmapping and communications skills), they have to be able to articulate the values to others in order to gain acceptance and add value… and often they have to do it all on their own.

Here are some of the most common stumbling blocks for new innovators looking to launch their own innovation programs

Identifying Organizational Strengths

In addition to learning one’s core competencies as an organization, it is important to assess one’s innovation skills. You have to be able to evaluate your workforce their creative capacity, your leadership for its commitment to innovation, and more. Even innovators who know this sometimes struggle to self-assess.

Articulating Goals

Are you looking to have a local or a global impact? Are you looking for innovations for your existing offering or are you looking for new, transformative ideas? Starting a program with a clear set of objectives is often the difference between a rousing success and a silent-but-deadly failure.

Developing Processes

There are a variety of innovation and creativity methodologies. Identifying one that is right for your organization is sometimes difficult. You need to be able to build a team, establish what criteria ideas will be measured against and determine timelines that you can count on.

Tracking and Communicating Value

If you’re not planning on creating value, you won’t. It’s important to have some KPIs that you’re tracking from the beginning of the program and reporting on those KPIs throughout the program.

The good news is that with the power of crowdsourcing, innovators now often have more help in launching their programs. IdeaScale even launched a contest that invites anyone to enter to win a free introductory consulting session that will address these very concerns so that anyone can launch their own program. You can enter to win here.

What are your top challenges when launching an innovation challenge?

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.