Last Updated Sep 9, 2010 6:15 AM EDT
Roberto Verganti, the author of Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean, recently addressed this issue on the HBR's The Conversation blog and offered one guiding principle -- involve your boss in the innovation process as early as possible. If he feels like he owns it, he (or she) is less likely to reject it. Verganti has four tips on how to accomplish this:
- Get an endorsement to investigate a business challenge. For example, if you work in the R&D department of a food company, a challenge could be coming up with new products that are healthier and provide a better experience by eating less. It's more likely that you will gain support for investigating such a challenge than suddenly selling an idea for a new valuable cheese that people will buy in smaller quantities. So even if you already have an idea for solving a problem, don't immediately pitch it.
- Design the innovation process together. Once you have top management's support to tackle the challenge, come to an agreement on how to come up with ideas for tackling it.
- Update top executives frequently. Keep feeding them information on how the investigation is developing along the way. When you do so, don't talk about the emerging possible solutions; instead, provide information on how you are interpreting the challenge. In this way, executives will more easily grasp the solution once you present it.
- Involve top executives in the creation of the solution. By doing so you will not only receive precious insights but also stronger support, because executives will feel they own the idea.