KeyStone Innovation Challenge

Generating Ideas for Improvement

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Go to Plan Go to Deploy Go to Ideate Go to Post Go to Evaluate Go to Refine & Re-evaluate Go to Select Go to Celebrate

Pick an Area of Focus

One of the most important steps is to set the area of focus for the Innovation Challenge.  The goal is to balance making it as specific as possible so as to be actionable and making it broad enough to cover peripheral opportunities.

The resulting project statement should not only address what to learn, but should also give the business reason for conducting the project.  If the project cannot be aligned with the business strategy or a key initiative, then it is probably not a good investment of the organization's resources.

The statement should be tested to see if it has the proper breadth of scope.  If the scope is too broad, the project may not produce actionable data.  If the scope is too narrow the project may miss critical peripheral data.  Consider the impact of adding and removing constraints in the project statement.  This is not an exact science.  Iterate the statement until it appears appropriate.


Denison Culture Survey Targets

When choosing Keystone Innovation Challenge area of focus after a Denison Organizational Culture Survey, get as specific as possible.  Following are the four Denison quadrants with additional topics for you to consider when picking a targets for generating ideas.





Choose Level of Involvement

Decide early on how many participants to include.  In addition to encouraging cross-functional participation, consider involvement from star performers.  One of the ways to improve the outcome is to improve the quality of ideas that are generated.  The skill of the participants will directly affect the quality of ideas generated.  Consider assembling a dream team and running them through an innovation workshop event.

Projects may also be positively impacted by including individuals outside of the organization who have an interest in the outcome or who are subject matter experts.  


Set a Schedule

Items to schedule include:

Project planning
Project launch communication
Idea generation time 
Evaluation period
Additional rounds of idea refinement and evaluation
Final selection


Make a Communications Plan

It is important to have a clearly laid out communication plan in advance of the project start.  This will help refine planning and ensure all runs smooth.  Items to consider in the communications plan include:

Project plan
Executive / Sponsor updates
Participant invitations
Participant instructions
Start and Stop notices for generating and evaluating ideas
Start and Stop notices for generating and evaluating solutions
Selection and evaluation criteria
Final awards and celebration


Get Stakeholder Buy-in

Make sure sponsors and stakeholders are represented on the project team.  When preforming a stakeholder analysis it is important to answer the following:

Who has a stake in the outcome of this project?
What is at stake or important for them?
What is a win for them?
Who could derail this project “late in the game” if not included early on?

It is helpful for the project leader to have a conversation with the sponsor(s) before the project starts to get clear on not only the scope, but also on the schedule and costs.  It is helpful to know which of these items are fixed, set and accepted so that when conflicts arise later in the project, there is a predetermined criterion for resolving them.  Many sponsors want to fix all three of the items.  It can be challenging for some sponsors to help complete the following matrix, however the reality is that all three items can rarely be fixed.  Nor is it wise to just accept whatever emerges from the project team.

Fixed:                This element is dictated by need or circumstance
Set:                     This element is chosen at a given level by decision
Accepted:         This element is at whatever level will make the fixed and set elements possible.