Innovation has been widely accepted as an essential tool for company growth. However, the challenge remains for top managers to understand this process and create an internal environment that leads to successful sales and profits. Stéphanie Bérard, a project management consultant at Alphacreations and professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management, shares 10 tips to successfully manage innovative projects.
1. Giving meaning to a project
Company leaders, managers and employees need a shared vision for new projects. This helps motivate project teams and encourages their creative capacities. Giving meaning to a project also clarifies a team's goals and allows them to seize key opportunities.
2. Developing a common culture
Shared values and open communication are necessary to benefit from a shared vision. "This is particularly the case when teams are spread out around the world and do not work face to face. It's really what allows employees to feel as if they belong to the company and the project." highlights Stéphanie Bérard.
3. Focusing on client needs
Successful market penetration depends on understanding client needs and offering services and products that meet their demands. To do so, requires teams in the field to spend time understanding a client's environment and constraints.
4. Opening your ecosystem
Collaborative projects are the way of the future. "As more people are involved in a project, it's essential to listen to their needs or ideas and then to consider how to integrate them into the creation process." comments Stéphanie Bérard. In other words, managers have to know how to inspire and work with all the players in their growing ecosystem.
5. Creating confidence
Giving teams autonomy is vital for creativity. This implies that management must be ready to accept some mistakes and ask for fewer project schedules or progress reports. "Simply put, less micromanagement encourages innovative initiatives." explains Stéphanie Bérard.
6. Limiting hierarchical levels
Encouraging horizontal management integration not only speeds up the decision-making process, but also encourages employees to communicate openly and focus on client satisfaction rather than personal success. This agile approach helps companies gain the most from new opportunities.
7. Encouraging diverse skills
It's crucial to avoid tunnel vision and limited communication. Developing an open-minded outlook opens the door to taking innovative paths. This approach is contingent on the adaptability and availability of a company's employees and their skills.
8. Choosing the right project leader
The right project leader can be the keystone that unlocks the path to successful innovation. What defines such a leader? The ability to listen, look out for and encourage team participants while also skillfully negotiating, communicating and delegating tasks.
9. Using new tools
Whether it's video conferences, remote desktop sharing or pooling resources, collaborative tools are continuously evolving and have demonstrated their efficiency when correctly implemented. Such tools can for example allow teams spread out around the world to continue work on a project 24 hours a day thanks to different time zones. Also, social networks can help create a community feeling around a project.
Sometimes the best way to question one's methods is through external input. Coaching can take the form of internal mentoring, reverse coaching (where a junior colleague brings a new perspective to senior management) or external services. Today, there is even a Project Manager hotline service available on the market. "The crucial thing to remember is that it's important to take a step back to evaluate and learn from your experiences in order to share your successes." concludes Stéphanie Bérard.