Three Political Principles to Bake Into Your New Innovation Program

To successfully handle the challenges of implementing a new innovation program, you need to create internal political support that helps your organization stay unified. In a roundtable discussion hosted by U+ partner ILO Institute, our speaker provided three key methods to instill and maintain the political support needed to keep your teams on track throughout the innovation implementation process.

U+, in partnership with the ILO Institute, is excited to bring you highlights from ILO’s Weekly Virtual Gatherings. In a recent meeting we learned about three approaches to gaining internal political support before launching a new innovation program.

Insight prepared and provided by Peter Temes and Christian Hamilton of ILO.

The best practices that we’ve observed around launching a new innovation program at a large organization include these:

  1. The best advocate for innovation or change inside your organization is not an executive tasked with the job, but a customer who begins by praising the organization’s vision for the future. The innovation leader who then steps in to introduce the innovation agenda as helping the existing functions deliver what customers have publicly asked for faces much less resistance.

Avanade’s annual innovation contest, driven in part by an external customer advisory board, is the best example we’ve seen of this.

  1. Plan for resistance when you try to move the proven new idea or strategy into scaled operations. The best way to ensure successful hand-off from “innovation” to “production” is to have the receivers of the hand-offs populate the team that sits at the table affirming and supporting the experiments that form the heart of the innovation agenda – even though this might make these experiments less bold, and might require a separate “moon shot” or truly-disruptive innovation program without this pressure.

The innovation program at UCLA Health under the lead of Chief Innovation Officer Molly Coye is a great example. Their innovation board approves new experiments and requires that a hand-off receiver be a mentor to every experiment that is undertaken. “So when it succeeds,” Dr. Coye explains, “The person who has to take it and scale it already knows about it and is already invested in its success.”

The key trade-off here is between having more false negatives (doing less because the hand-off receivers are conservative by nature and circumstance), and having more false positives (doing more that might work but won’t get taken up to scale because the conservative incumbents are not part of the process early enough).

  1. Understand the measures that mean the most in your organization, and the people who make the best advocates.

At a large CPG company participating with ILO, that means having branded-product success stories to tell, and it means making brand managers the first line of people to be served and made happy by the innovation team, to build the political support necessary to expand beyond that initial circle of constituents.

At a large B-to-B insurer, it has meant having more measurable dollars in business garnered by underwriters because they use the data-innovation team’s tools, and fewer claims made and approved.

The U+ method can efficiently and effectively lead the development, implementation, and improvement of innovations in any sector. To date, we have used this method to bring 90+ products to market, creating over $1 billion in value for Fortune 1000 companies. Check out U+ success stories here.

Get 20 minutes with Sean, the Managing Partner of U+ Americas, to learn more about how U+ can help your company innovate successfully.

Launched in 2005, ILO is a membership organization for large companies, government agencies and not-for-profits, bringing senior executives leading innovation together for knowledge sharing and community building. ILO has completed more than 300 best-practice research reports, focusing on emerging challenges and opportunities. To learn more about ILO, membership benefits, and how to join, visit

Check back next week as we’ll be releasing new insights from weekly events with leading innovators from across the globe.

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