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Innovation Leadership | How To Avoid Losing Momentum On Projects

As an innovation leader, a key challenge when innovating is to attract resources or collaborators to help drive your project. Teams also need to stay positive and motivated that the concepts will see the light of day. As a team, you will need to convince stakeholders of the impending success of your concepts or opportunities you are exploring. During the project people will gather user stories with key stakeholders to share with potential to identify insights to find solutions for. Customers will also need understand the motivation behind prototypes or solutions you are offering, that they might provide feedback or even use your early stage solutions. You will need their genuine feedback and not confirmation biased responses.

All of the above scenarios necessitate a need for alignment at each stage between the various actors, because misunderstanding or loss of shared meaning can detract from momentum, energy and affect results. At worst your project might get shelved if people are not convinced of its hidden potential.

Opportunities abound to shift the narrative

Given the above, the opportunity is to craft a future vision, to understand where the project is going and what possibilities could emerge together as a team. It is also to ensure that the approach and the why of innovation is understood. This narrative could ensure a stronger team identity and self-belief. Other related opportunities are to avoid misalignment on projects; that the excitement and urgency is not lost; and that people’s motivation (as a valued resources) remains high, to name just a few. To deliver and ensure shared understanding across a wide range of stages and activities during an innovation process, relies on great storytelling skills. Storytelling is skill that can be learned but that also requires constant practice, self-awareness and skill.

Barriers to overcome

Teams on projects often struggle to share the right messages at the right time to the right audiences. Poor timing and inappropriate messaging can have disastrous effects. Barriers that prevent successful communication are:

  • Your audience is not ready for the message, not knowing your audience

  • Lack of prep to craft the message in the right way

  • Low levels of creativity and confidence, how to delivery compelling stories

  • Diverging views on the narrative of the project (and the future vision)

  • Lack of understanding of the solution itself as it relates to the audience

  • Not enough stories emanating from the project and between team members

Strategies to adopt | Approaches to use To counter this, teams should use the power of story to makes sure customer narratives are understood. Not only does story evoke a happiness cocktail of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins in the listener, but in the storyteller too! Thinking in story can be very powerful if well utilized. Here are some tactics to use:

  • Provide strategic guidance on the powerful narratives emerging

  • Gather compelling stories every week and build a narrative

  • Encourage the crafting of stories internally from the outset

  • Build a storytelling community of practice

  • Find the appropriate story structure too use

  • Nurture people’s inherent creative talents to bring together unique stories

  • Use storytelling key practices to support it

  • Amplify stories to ensure important messages are heard

Story is an ancient practice that we all know and recognize. It is accessible and fun, and most importantly it is effective! Innovation Leadership implication: Learn how to encourage and practice storytelling around innovation projects. Support positive and binding narratives. Provide Innovators with practical strategies to communicate discoveries, failures, progress, and opportunities effectively


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