In-house innovation programs are an emerging phenomenon. Many businesses and government organizations are formalizing processes around the innovation practice in order to keep pace with competition and the rapidly changing expectations of the public.

But, innovation intrapreneurs are often on their own as they attempt to launch their first program and it’s often a steep learning curve to establish methodologies, processes, and expectations that will become the foundation for an embedded program. What we’ve found is that it’s possible to launch a short-term, learning innovation initiative that will set baselines for expectations and in-house knowledge as the department develops.

Here are the four things that innovators need to do in a test program

Learn How to Ideate

If you launch a mini-program and solve even just one problem, it will be a great soft launch for an initiative with more ambitious goals.

Not every company is creative by default. You need to find ways to generate creativity within an organization and invite others to co-inspire. It helps to review brainstorming best practices and create an incentive program for participation.

Learn How to Develop Great Teams

Innovation isn’t something that happens in a vacuum. Identifying the skill sets for various team members and empowering them with enough authority to move ideas forward is a key intrapreneurial skill set. How will you develop your team?

Learn How to Refine an Idea

Ideas don’t arrive fully-baked. You need to find ways to draw more out of them and turn ideas into solutions that will help you address a problem. This is something that your team can help you with.

Learn What It Takes to Implement a Project

This is potentially the most important step and it’s often a place where innovators fall flat. Try to marshall resources to the best ideas and check-in and report back to the rest of the team as the projects progress.

Remember, you don’t have to solve word hunger on your first try out of the gate. You can start small: “how are you going to be more sustainable at the home office,” for example. If you launch a mini-program and solve even just one problem, it will be a great soft launch for an initiative with more ambitious goals.

Because we know the power that test-driving a program like this can have, IdeaScale created a four-week, self-paced Innovation Academy that coaches innovators through a mini program launch. You pick one problem and solve it over the course of a month.  To register for the course, download the course workbook here.

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.