In a previous post I wrote about the need for relatively small innovation program teams to build effective and efficient networks, designed to support their efforts and build momentum for a culture of innovation.
Today I want to address what I like to call “Innovation Super Users”. These are the people that regularly participate in your innovation activities, want to improve their career prospects and could end up being powerful advocates for your efforts. They are the ones that you see time and again at your innovation centered activities and events.
In short, these are the most important people for your program to rope into your efforts going forward, especially if you are resource constrained. Without their active support, your program might struggle to generate sufficient momentum to generate real results across an organization. More importantly, without an effective Super User network, your might lack effective scale to execute on ideas generated through your activities. What can be more frustrating!
So, my pitch to you is this: building these networks is a really effective and relatively easy way to increase the rate of execution of ideas for your program. In other words, the better your network, the more resources you can direct towards generating ROI. Bingo!
So let’s consider some actions that you can take to build a network of Super Users.
The first step is to for you to develop a strategic framework around supporting this network. The reality is that any network requires resources, focus and an eye to future activities to be successful. This should be considered a long-term effort for your program and you need to have a well structured framework that outlines the following:
- Who are your Super Users? – What defines them in your view?
- What do you want them to do? – Resources are going to be limited and you want them to be effective.
- How will you support them going forward? – What do you think will work within your existing organizational structure?
- What resources can you realistically dedicate to managing and growing this network?
- What benefits for the organization (and individual participants) will be generated? – There is no point in doing this unless some sort of tangible result is achieved.
For when you are considering a framework I have listed out some basic activities that you can consider, as ways to build up these networks within your organization:
- Send these individuals some sort of formal acknowledgment / recognition of their new status within the organization. Better yet, send it to their boss and get that person to pass it over to your newly minted Super User. Make them feel special and that they have been rewarded for their efforts. Give it an impression of exclusivity and value.
- Give these groups access to special offers, inside information, special reports, newsletters and materials, so that they can build networks and increase their knowledge around innovative thinking.
- Provide special networking groups for them to interact with each other. This is where more advanced thinking around social media (especially within the confines of your organization) can be helpful.
- Direct Super Users towards approved innovative ideas that need to be built, with an outline of specific skills needed to bring these ideas to fruition. You can even provide marketplaces for these activities
- Communicate with them on a regular basis, with effective, consistent and value-added channels
- Provide them training on how to be innovative. These people often have the desire to be innovative, but not the specific skills to come up with new ideas, build consensus around those ideas, build business plans and work towards execution. By giving them training on these skills they will feel more connected to your efforts and will generated better results
- Report activity and results of the network back to them, and also to your leadership. Constant reinforcement and visibility is important to success.
These are some basic steps that you can take to build these networks and get them moving. In future entries I want to talk about some more advanced activities and actions that your organization can take to fully develop Super User networks and build a robust culture of innovation.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.