What is innovation?

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Innovation is often widely misunderstood. It’s a buzzworthy term and used in myriad ways. No wonder it’s difficult setting up and running an innovation practice when the work and word itself can be so misunderstood.

We hear you.

At The Moment, we consistently help our clients learn, grow, and thrive in their innovation practices. So we thought we would share some of the magic. To be clear, there is no $9.99 approach to achieving success. It takes a lot of work, but here are some tools and tips that might make things a little easier.

Webinar: Watch the Replay

The Moment’s Innovation Designers Simon Mhanna and Heather Daam-Rossi share frameworks, tools, and approaches to building an innovation practice. Watch the replay on demand below.

What did we learn?

As the hosts, we learned that a lot of you out there have many questions—on how to frame and talk about innovation internally, which frameworks work best, how to measure innovation, and how to get colleagues and executives in your organization engaged in the work. Here is some advice to help you navigate your innovation work.

How do I frame innovation internally?

Innovation can be a scary idea for those who don’t work in the space. People don’t often like change, and innovation can signal uncertainty and discomfort.

Our advice to you: define the word ‘innovation’ for your organization and context, and use it to your advantage. Or find a different word that works for you!

Here is The Moment’s definition of innovation:

Innovation is the process in which a new idea or invention is translated into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.

When framing innovation for your context, think about aspects such as:

  • How is innovation being applied in your organization?
  • What are the boundaries, if any?
  • Who is involved in moving innovation forward?
  • What are the implications for your organization to pursue innovation work?

However you define the word and context around your innovation efforts, be sure to provide examples and context for others in your practice, and in the broader organization. The biggest battle is often getting colleagues and executives to understand the importance and benefits of innovation. Set your definition and objectives clearly from the start.

In our November 2018 webinar , we asked attendees: Do you use the word “innovation” in your organization? Here’s what we learned: There is quite a bit of confusion over use of the term ‘Innovation,’ and some organizations are defining and using the term well.

The Moment’s Innovation Webinar responses, November 2018


How do I measure innovation?

It’s important to set up the right metrics at the beginning of your innovation project and measure consistently throughout the work. We recommend that you think through both financial KPIs as well as non-financial metrics. Here are some of the things you can think about measuring:

  • Lessons learned
  • Speed to market
  • Skill assessment
  • New leads or customers
  • Your organization’s culture and any shifts
  • Number of innovation projects successfully completed
  • Number of innovation projects killed and money saved as a result

These are just a few in addition to your standard financial and ROI project metrics. If you’re interested in learning more on innovation metrics, be sure to check out Erika Bailey’s Post on how to measure the right innovation metrics as an additional resource.

In addition to financial and project metrics, you might also want to think about how to measure aspects such as your organization’s ability to innovate, as well as your own innovation skills.

Measure your organization’s readiness to innovate: Are you equipped with the right tools, spaces, and mindsets to move the needle on innovation? Get the Culture Scan to surface and measure the factors of innovation culture in your organization.

Measure your innovation skills: Identify the strengths you bring to innovation work, and find out where you might need to augment capabilities. The Moment’s Innovation Designer capability map helps you map the skills you currently have, and find the skills you need. Teams at organizations including Loblaw use the tool to map their skills across the entire team.

How do I get buy-in for my innovation projects?

Another question that we get asked all the time is about getting buy-in and support from both colleagues and executives to pursue innovation projects. Let’s be honest — innovation is seen as inherently risky. It requires that the organization take a leap of faith to figure out a new path forward, in projects both big and small.

But there is a way to getting buy-in, and the secret lies in sharing the story of your work early and often. It’s not just about creating an amazing package to present at the end of the project. It’s about approaching different departments and teams to get their points of view, demonstrate the process and show off small wins, and use storytelling as an effective way to socialize your innovation work. It’s also about leveraging the sharing points that are already happening; what meetings, town halls, and touchpoints already exist at which you could share some milestones from your work?

In our 2018 webinar poll, we also asked attendees: Do you have the resources you need for your innovation project? Not surprisingly, a majority said they have some resources, while 21% of respondents struck a hopeful tone, saying “not yet.” And a small percentage of respondents said a resounding yes! They had what they needed; the remaining small percentage of respondents said don’t even go there, I essentially have no resources…

The Moment’s Innovation Webinar responses, November 2018


The question around getting resources and buy-in from people around your organization might have a lot to do with the amount of time and portion of your job that is dedicated to actual innovation work. Our advice is to make innovation work not just a side-of-desk opportunity, but to carve out the space and pursue projects in a fulsome way. While not everyone gets the resources they may dream of, almost all of the people we hear from say they start in small ways – building wins and credibility through sharing and socializing the work – to expand the scope and impact as they move forward.

What’s next?

No matter where you are on your innovation journey, there are others out there who are dealing with similar challenges and roadblocks. Paving new roads within large or legacy organizations can be lonely work. Find your community of like-minded practitioners to share ideas and find support. Find allies within your organization who can vouch for this important work. And above all else, just keep being awesome.