Amid economic uncertainty heading into 2023, we are all being asked “to do more with less”: fewer resources, staff, and budget. Luckily, the pandemic taught us that when our circumstances change, we don’t stop–we innovate.
In this article, we share lessons learned from high performing organizations able to achieve “more with less” by driving highly effective innovation programs.
They lean into automation and data insights “to do more with less”
While resource pressures continue to mount, automating the innovation process can help solve the world's most complex problems. There is a lot of opportunity to incorporate automation technology to improve innovation as a business process. First, process automation allows innovators to accelerate the tasks that lead to a decision point faster.
Second, automation allows innovators to share their workload across more people responsible for microtasks that can be worked in parallel. Finally, innovation performance data can be captured from workflows and analyzed to help organizations better predict and forecast the outcomes of their innovation programs. Automated process, dashboard reporting and data allow people to spend less time in the menial tasks and more time in the growth potential of their work.
They value their people and recognize the ability of homegrown human capital “to do more with less”
Anyone who has ever worked at a company knows or has experienced at some point in their careers a time when they had an idea they believed could propel their company forward. The question was what did you do with it? Did you know where to take it? Were you afraid of sharing it with your peers, for fear of retaliation or a bad outcome? Culture and willingness to collaborate is the key enabler inside innovative companies. It starts with cultures that are open to receive new ideas and allows for ownership of new ideas to start from the bottom up (rather than being pushed from the top down). And, these organizations give ideas a space to breathe and be experimented before they are shot down or alternatively, put on the shelf to grow old and stale.
Here, being inclusive to the idea that everybody innovates, regardless of what department they are in, and having a transparent purpose with clear goals that can be measured is crucial for successful innovation programs. Organizations that create inclusive innovation cultures and have a clear process that allows anyone to get their idea in front of the right people “do more with less” by effectively leveraging their own human capital. Organizations that can combine this with a rapid decision making process capture the most gains.
Organizations that master democratization of their innovation program and scale quickly drive growth and better performance. Democratization means measuring what innovators are doing in the process and where decisions are being made so that frontline employees (and management teams) can trust the process. Organizations can take advantage of the power of transparency through metrics that indicate how well they are performing. They know if their process is moving at the right pace to avoid ideas from becoming stale or killing them too early. This knowledge can actually contribute to higher levels of collaboration and help more people buy-into the process. The more people are willing to collaborate and “buy in” determines how well your organization can leverage your own homegrown human capital.
They recognize the limits of data and create cultures of learning by doing, to “do more with less”
While data is important to driving results, we must recognize there is a limit to automation and data crunching. Innovation is still very much a human interactive team sport – and it always will be. All of the AI in the world will not replace the human factor in the innovation process. At the core, we still must rely on humans’ judgment and business acumen. But we can use data insights to decrease the time to decision which turns out to be the critical success factor among companies who are outperforming in the innovation arena. The longer it takes to decide and the number of people it takes to make that decision are the biggest killers in the innovation process. Here, “doing more with less” means getting team sizes right (smaller is better) and taking out the unnecessary checkpoints that slow down decisions to save time. When organizations get stuck in analysis paralysis, this can be quite expensive. Evaluating your process and right sizing teams saves time and drives better outcomes.
Relying too much on data or, alternatively having too much data to crunch are deterrents. Instead focus on having just the right amount of data and process to drive rapid learning and experimentation (fast!). Organizations that have a rapid and repeatable culture of experimentation and learning create the DNA to outperform their competition and can create a discernable advantage in their industries. They can capitalize on “doing more with less” by driving a highly efficient and effective innovation program.