Innovation and Change Management:  The People Side of Implementing a Great Strategy

Posted by Paula Alsher on Thu, Apr 06, 2017 @ 10:21 AM

If your organization is like most, there is significant emphasis on implementing innovation across the enterprise. Developing market-leading products, business process improvements, new patient care models, ground-breaking strategies, new markets --- all offer substantial potential for increasing market share, efficiency, and competitive advantage. And let’s face it… competitive advantage is what everyone is seeking.  Change Management and Innovation

But, innovation in and of itself can be complex. It usually involves large-scale and highly complex organizational change, with multiple inter-dependencies. The challenge of actually implementing innovation is arguably just as difficult as the process of creating the innovation itself! {Tweet This}


Innovation Without Implementation Leads Nowhere

We all know a culture of innovation can make a company wildly successful.  But the challenge innovative organizations face is to ensure enough attention is being paid to how to actually implement all the fabulous ideas they come up with!  As we discuss in our change management training programs, “This is a game of implementation.  Only 15% of the job is figuring out what to do.  Making it happen-that is where the action is.” (F. Warren McFarlan)

Organizations that are looking to survive and even thrive with an innovative culture need be “change-adept”.  This means they will:

  • provide the skill and structure required to identify problems and improvement opportunities

  • technically implement solutions in a cost-effective and efficient manner

  • manage all aspects of the implementation including the human and cultural elements, including eliminating the “silo mentality” so common in organizations, and reinforcing collaboration

  • and provide the organizational support, time, and resources needed for implementation success

This is why leaders of innovation have to have a laser-focus on the ability of the organization to implement.  In fact, “Implementation” must become a core capability because without it, the innovative ideas may be there, but there will be no change!  


How to Get From a Great Idea…To Implementation Success

So, what does it take to build implementation capability into your organization? First it takes leaders who recognize that having a good idea or strategy is only a small part of their accountability. They must be accountable for implementation as well.  In fact, the actions of your Sponsors are the single most important factor in getting changes implemented—much more important than the project team or local “Change Agents.”

Organizations must also adopt a structured implementation process that can be married with other critical business protocols, such as project management, Agile or Lean Six Sigma.

Absent a common framework for managing the human and cultural elements of strategic initiatives, organizations are far more likely to take too long, spend too much, and increase the likelihood that desired changes are not sustained over time.  In other words, without a structured process for implementation, the best idea is likely to fall flat or stall out.

The Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM), our proprietary change management methodology, offers a robust set of tools and measurement diagnostics, along with a structured framework for managing the human elements of any change project from business process improvement to Transformational Change.  How does our change management methodology help to ensure you achieve the desired business outcomes?


7 Ways the AIM Structured Process Drives Innovation


  1. Defining the Change, meaning getting alignment around the scope and business case for the change, including the business, technical and human objectives for the innovation, described in a succinct yet compelling Business Case for Action, and identifying prospective disruptions.

  1. Building Change Agent Capacity, meaning development of a highly-qualified, highly skilled network of Change Agents who will implement the changes around the innovation at the local level. Remember that even if the innovation is developed at the corporate level, implementation is at the local level.

  1. Assessing the Climate for implementation, meaning what are the cultural barriers to change that are inherent in your organization and must be overcome if you are going to be innovative. Our Implementation History Assessment diagnostic is a statistically validated tool for getting this valuable data.

  1. Generating Project Sponsorship, meaning a network of Sponsors who are reinforcing the desired new behaviors associated with the innovation down and across the enterprise.

  1. Creating Target Readiness for the Change, meaning that you are preparing the organization by surfacing and managing resistance to the innovation. Innovation is disruptive, so even if it represents forward progress and what would be considered “positive,” resistance is inevitable. You can’t be an innovative organization unless there is resistance.  As Don Harrison says in our change management certification program, “An innovative organization isn’t resistance free, it’s resistance and conflict laden!”

  1. Building a Communication Plan, meaning application of multiple delivery methods that communicate the changes around the innovation in the Frame of Reference of the Targets, with feedback loops built in so that you can gather data back from the Targets.

  1. Developing a Reinforcement Strategy, meaning there are positive consequences for those that demonstrate they are “on the bus”, and negative consequences for those that continue to work in the old ways. These reinforcements must be meaningful for the Targets, and applied with immediacy and certainty. Be prepared to reinforce Sponsors, too, because giving up the traditional power structure to foster innovation requires significant behavioral change on their part.

Compared to the cost of the innovation itself, the investment in a business-disciplined and structured framework for managing the human side of the implementation is small, but the return is great.  The application of a structured change management process such as AIM dramatically improves the likelihood of success. What an innovative idea!

Free Whitepaper: Leading People Through Business Changes

Topics: Change Management Methodology, Culture, Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM), Innovation