Why should the C-suite be on board and will ideas be lost at sea without them?

The guiding compass

Text book recommendation for any large corporate initiative that aims to change behavior or create any considerable impact requires C-suite sponsorship. C-level sponsors plays three essential roles, according to an article in Harvard Business Review.

  1. Ensure the project’s goals are aligned with overall company strategy
  2. Provide ongoing direction
  3. Garner support (and overcomes resistance) from other senior executives

With that being said, there is a long que outside their door with every change project and strategic initiative seeking support from the same handful of people. Now, in theory, a sponsor’s role is to keep the innovation project on-strategy. Ironically, new ideas that are truly genius, have a tendency to be off-strategy. This is the fundamental reason why an endorsement from the highest decision makers in the organization is vital. Without it, obtaining authorization to pursue an off-strategy initiative and freeing up the necessary resources becomes nearly impossible.

Of course we have all seen ideas that can fight for themselves. We have experienced, if not read stories, of brilliant engineers that continue to work on ideas that they are told to abandon (i.e. Steve Jobs). However, this strategy can be detrimental to one’s career if things go wrong and few are willing to take such a risk. Therefore, this unorthodox approach is not a sustainable method for generating new growth ideas. So, what is?

Connecting innovators and investors

Innovation challenges provide a direct link between innovators who have ideas and the executives who have the power to bring them to fruition. At Bühler, idea teams that progress to the final round of the challenge are paired with senior sponsors. These sponsors provide funding to fuel the project and serve to drive the project forward. See Bühler‘s CEO and CTO voice their support for the innovation challenge process and explain how innovation challenges are helping them to discover new ideas from the collective genius within their own organization.

Commitment leads to superior results

Our most successful clients have shared one commonality, highly involved executives. Take David Briggs at VELUX for example. Newly appointed as CEO, David wanted to showcase his commitment to innovation and he did so by launching an innovation challenge to convey the message loud and clear. He appeared in videos describing why employees should get involved and encouraged them to join!

The result speaks for itself. Over 2,000 ideas were submitted to the platform in two weeks time. Including more than 60.000 likes and 20.000 comments. This demonstrates that highly involved executives, physically or virtually, result in higher engagement rates from employees. Read the full VEUX case study, here.

Commitment by top management gives employees a clear focus, helping them to prioritize their tasks and understand the organization’s long term goals and objectives. Furthermore, employees are more likely to engage in the initiative when they feel empowered and supported by their organization. Employees aren’t the only ones to benefit from senior sponsorship. Executives themselves have the opportunity to be part of something employees are passionate about while discovering new growth opportunities for the organization.

Although Nosco’s consultants will be happy to guide you through each phase of the innovation challenge process to ensure the highest return on investment, commitment by top-level management ultimately remains the most influential factor in the success of your initiative.

Are you ready to jump on board? Contact one of our experienced innovation consultants today! @nos.co