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How to drive product innovation "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs 20 January 2022 True Innovation, Leadership, Premium Content, product innovation, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 534 Product Management 2.136

In this Ask Me Anything (AMA) session for members, award-winning author and corporate innovation expert, Tendayi Viki, joined Mind the Product’s Managing Director, Emily Tate, to talk about driving innovation within product teams and organisations.

Watch the video in full or read on for the summary:

In brief

  • Sustain support throughout the organisation
  • Use evidence to make the right decisions on what ideas will be the most innovative
  • Champion innovation by identifying leaders to inspire and encourage teams
  • Focus on how your innovative ideas can be delivered to your customers to create a meaningful impact

Sustain stakeholder support

When driving innovation, Tendayi advises to sustain stakeholder support and tie these ideas back to the main core of your organisation. It’s important to bring everyone on the journey in making your ideas successful—doing this is more important than the ability to build innovative products, Tendayi believes.

“Leaders can’t pick winners, winners can only create the environment in which winners emerge,” he Tendayi says, “if we don’t embrace that philosophy, we can’t move forward.”

Product leaders need to drive innovation by choosing the right ideas that are tested, and not only the ones that look like they’re going to drive innovation and succeed, “your role as a product leader is to create strategic guidance about which areas and trends that you want to innovate and explore,” he says, “you create the context in which teams test those ideas. After these ideas are put forward, it’s then your role to make evidence-based decisions about which ideas are showing traction and could be successfully out in the real world.”

Quick read: How to influence decisions using research

Celebrate early innovation

For smaller and early-stage organisations, Tendayi says that it can be difficult to inspire others to innovate if you haven’t “won in innovation yet”. Identify leaders within your organisation who are already established in winning to inspire and encourage others to innovate. “In early-stage organisations, make sure to celebrate those early wins and use storytelling to make it easier for people to recognise those leaders as heroes,” he says. Build these relationships within your organisation—doing so will allow you to develop an innovative culture.

A winning idea is just as important as its delivery, Tendayi believes. “If you consider yourself an innovator but the things that you work on never has an impact on the world, are you an innovator?” he says. You have to care about more than just inventing technology—you need to ensure that the things you create eventually end up with the customer and create value. Focus on the creation but also tune in to how you can work with your organisation to deliver this, create meaningful impact, and ultimately drive innovation.

What to read next

Driving innovation is a key asset in product management. Mind the Product has plenty of other resources to help you think through how to achieve this. Explore more content with a focus on driving innovation, or search more topics in our Content A-Z.

Some of the content referenced above is exclusive to Mind the Product members. Not yet in the club? Learn about Prioritised and MTP Leader membership today.

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