Companies with an employee idea program will want that plan firing on all cylinders, tapping into fresh and innovative ideas from employees while at the same time making them better engaged with their work.
But you can’t go from 0 to 60 unless you have all the right parts in place and performing at their best.
To pull this off and maximize the engagement-innovation dynamic, it’s not just the employees who will have to be involved, but the leadership team as well.
Connecting these groups is one of the most important players in a great idea program: the innovation manager.
What is an Innovation Manager?
The innovation manager (also called a program manager) is the go-to between the idea program, its community of idea-makers and the leadership team.
Simply put, the primary role of the innovation manager is to make sure the employees/innovation community are involved with the idea platform, are actively using it and coming up with quality, actionable ideas. And they make sure that the best of these ideas don’t wither unused on the vine, but instead make their way up to the leadership level, who the innovation manager then follows up with to ensure there is progress from ideation to action.
Other key tasks of an innovation manager include:
- Liaising with the idea software provider and its support with technology and communications
- Putting essential components of a successful launch into place, such as awareness-building communications and finding Innovation Partners to turn ideas into action
- Quarterbacking the logistics for training and alignment of stakeholders like the Innovation Partners
- Keeping the senior leadership team up to speed as the program advances
Why Innovation Managers Matter
It’s a point we can’t stress enough — innovation managers are the linchpin of a winning idea program.
A manager who is deeply involved and committed to the idea program can ensure its success, and have an outsized effect on bringing about a culture of engaged innovation. When it comes to time investment, this can range from a few hours a week to about 10, depending on available support resources and how long it takes to bring the idea platform online.
And results for the innovation manager go beyond simply giving employee engagement and innovation a big shot in the arm. As they effectively become the face of the idea program, their reputation and profile across the organization will grow with both the employees whose ideas they’re unlocking as well as the leaders they’re plugged those suggestions into.
For more idea program basics, check out our eBook, Key Elements for a Successful Employee Idea Program.