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How to get senior management to support your innovation projects

If you’re one of those people who can easily identify new opportunities, it’s always frustrating to have your ideas falling on deaf ears. When it comes to technological innovation, the stakes are even higher, simply because it has the power to make or break a business. Choosing the wrong solutions can result in the company ending up in a worse position than when it started. On the other hand, the ability to innovate in a world of constant change is crucial for survival.

The fact is, even the most adaptable among us are still stuck in our habits, especially regarding the technology we use. After all, not many iPhone users would ever consider using an Android-powered phone, just like most Windows users aren’t willing to make the dramatic shift to Linux. For business leaders, some of the biggest decisions are whether to digitise and automate their core processes and whether they should migrate their systems to the cloud.

If you have an innovation project in mind, you’re going to have to convince your stakeholders that doing nothing is the bigger risk.

Speaking the right language

No other industry sector is more inundated with hype than business technology, and many leaders have heard it all before. By now, most have heard all about emerging trends and how things like augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and workflow automation are changing the world. The thing is, business leaders often aren’t technologists, and they’re not likely to give in to the hype. Similarly, excessive use of jargon is likely to turn them off too. Any shrewd business leader is interested in adding value to their organization; not in adopting new technologies for the sole reasons being that they’re new and that’s the ‘done thing’.

Rather than hearing about how artificial intelligence is driving workflow automation and how cloud computing is enabling workforce mobility, they want to hear about real business benefits. They want demonstrable proof that a workflow automation platform can increase productivity or how workforce mobility can open up new avenues for hiring the best talent.

It’s not always easy to convey these things in the right language. Even the greatest visionaries often find themselves unable to relate to others, so it’s a good idea to work towards achieving buy-in from elsewhere in the organisation too. Even if a small group of colleagues all come together to realise the benefits of innovation, senior management will be more likely to listen, much like the 3.5% rule of revolutions, in which it only takes a small minority to drive change.

Choose the right moment

Before you try to convince your stakeholders that it’s time to innovate with a particular solution, you need to identify the need. It’s not about chasing after the latest shiny new objects just because that’s what everyone else is doing. Necessity is the mother of invention, and all changes start with a need.

Innovation can be a rocky ride. Business leaders know this, and many also know that a large amount of digital transformation projects end up running far over budget and/or failing to meet their goals. If you don’t have a tangible business goal in mind, then you won’t get anywhere trying to get support for your projects. But identifying a need and having a goal isn’t enough. You also need a proven path to get there, lest the fraught with difficulties. You need the support and expertise necessary to ensure a successful implementation and support thereafter. Business leaders want a clear path for navigating the potential pitfalls, and that demands a structured approach to innovation.

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