Assessing Innovation Impacts
Not all organizations and cultures are created equal. Just because organizational leaders proclaim "We will innovate or else!", doesn't mean that innovation models, systems and labs will take flight and soar. Unfortunately many organizations cut corners during their initial "let's become an innovative organization" planning phase, where essential impact and readiness assessments and their accompanying mitigation strategies, are oftentimes overlooked. When we gloss over this work, we run the risk of developing misguided and half-baked transformational plans that ultimately cripple our innovation efforts, progress and outcomes.
Assessing & Mitigating Impact - Start Somewhere
If you're not used to navigating complex cultural waters, and this is the first time you're evaluating organizational impacts as you consider launching your innovation model, system or lab, I'd suggest that you use a tool similar to the following. The tool usage goal is not about quickly running through the items and checking off the boxes. The objective is to engage in critical thinking and rich discussions as you evaluate each element. It is highly likely that as you proceed through the list, you may need to revisit previously discussed impacts because you've uncovered fresh information or data that may cause you to adjust your initial rating. That's OK! Also worthy of note — most elements (not all) reference "preparation", "operationalization" and "sustainability". This is not a case of overkill. Many leaders fail to recognize that as organizations move from one cultural change stage to the next, the needs may vary. As an analogous example, if an organization is in transformational mode, they need Plan A. If they're in pure operational mode, they need Plan B. If they're in acquisition mode, they need Plan C. Cultural change is not a case of "one size fits all" as organizations progress through the change continuum.
Ready to Assess?
Check out this grid to walk through the exercise.
The Even Tougher Part — Devising Your Impact Mitigation Strategies
Now that you've identified your low, medium and high impacts, it's time to develop your mitigation strategies. Believe it or not, oftentimes this critical piece is intentionally skipped. I've never quite understood why. If it's important enough to identify impacts, which it is, then it's equally important to think through and document impact remediation. Here's a simple "getting started" form that you can use. For each medium and high impact element identified in your Innovation Impact Assessment, outline your impact-offsetting strategy.
In an upcoming segment, we'll address Readiness Assessments as you prepare for your innovation model, system or lab launch!