Recipe for Innovation & Uptake

Recipe for Innovation & UptakeThe only way to have a new idea catch fire is to introduce it into the world in ways that enable as many people as possible to begin using it for their advantage. That’s when exponential uptake occurs.

You see, we are constantly generating the future through interaction with unforeseen events and circumstances. This applies to everyone in your organization. The understandings they carry – why they are doing what they are doing, what and whom they are hoping to influence, their intents – all these shape their behavior which in turn filters the possibilities and opportunities which arise.

This is why communication must be interactive, relevant, and useful. It needs to be fun, sensible, and practicable.Communication done poorly:

  • Confuses us
  • Makes it difficult for us to choose where to put our efforts
  • Distracts us from the needs of the moment and our long-term intentions
  • Stifles effective action

Communication done well enables us to:

  • Make sense of what is going on around us
  • Decide where to put our efforts
  • Balance the needs of the moment with our long-term goals
  • Take effective action.

Here’s the Recipe!

1. Identify 1, 2, or 3 top priority strategic objectives that the senior team will support for the next six months. Build a mutual vision at the cabinet level.

  • CookTime: senior team, 2 hours

2. Bring your managers together and do (a) a presentation on the objectives, and (b) a creative session on how to translate these objectives to their teams.

  • CookTime: all managers, 4 hours

3. Provide communication materials to all cabinet and managers in easy-to-digest format that will help them communicate the objectives to their staff. These should be upbeat, clear, and adaptable, very high level. Let the managers take care of specifics.

Throw in an endorsement by the CEO (can be just two sentences and a signature, does not have to be a tome), some Frequently Asked Questions, and a support phone number & email that goes to a real person who is gregarious and clear about the objectives.

  • CookTime: 2 people – 2 days

4. Hold an all staff Innovation Marketplace. Ask everyone to demonstrate how their day-to-day work supports one or more of the three strategic objectives and present it using original and creative thinking. Make it a real bazaar with booths and food.

Let people wander around and have fun. Create awards for best display, most innovative, best new idea, greatest impact, and so on.

The whole event should be just two hours long. Awards can be simple, like a $100 Amazon gift certificate and the opportunity to present before management.

  • CookTime: all staff, 2 weeks warning + 4 hours for marketplace (90 min set-up, 2 hrs bazaar, 30 min clean up) + 3 support people, 2 days for logistics

5. Bring the whole thing full circle at a management meeting designed to foster creativity, engagement, and delight in delivering impact. Find ways to integrate the new ideas that goes beyond the surface. This is critical. This is the determining point where the whole thing can become a virtuous circle of staff engagement, where your people will get the message that strategic innovation is good. This will lead to greater and better innovation and uptake.

  • CookTime: senior team & winners: 2 hours

Just imagine what it would be like to have your entire organization juiced about your mission!

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Seth KahanSeth Kahan is a Change Leadership specialist. He has consulted with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Marriott, Prudential, Project Management Institute, and NASA. His book, Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out, is a Washington Post bestseller. Visit for a free excerpt.

Seth Kahan




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