building engagement that lasts

Building Innovation into Your Team Culture


Innovation is something we ask for and expect out of our marketing teams. The shift in focus over the last several years from traditional to digital distribution of messages has created a large array of new choices and many more challenges to implementing ideas.  Nowhere does this reality hit home more for the pharma marketer than with the use of the iPad as a primary tool in direct message delivery.  The gift of the new device from Apple represents great potential for new ways to empower the delivery, but the devil is in the execution details.  On-strategy creative is important. But pretty pictures and clever turns of phrase are not going to carry the day.  Digital marketing is a marriage of the message being delivered, the capability of the device, and its form factor.  Building creative strategy in new mediums means thinking differently about the creative process, including who should be involved. Take a look at these four suggestions for how to make the most out of your next collaboration:

Invite new people to the party.

It’s easy to get into a workflow that is comfortable and one you are used to.  Bringing in new folks to innovation sessions full of ‘regular producers’ can feel risky because of the potential for disruption.  The truth is innovation is often really a disruptive process. New mediums like the iPad are complex and teams should consider adding technical people who are willing to be active in the discussion.  Often the training department is an afterthought, but they should be brought on to the team as well.

Build innovation muscle.

Getting better at innovating means exercising your creative muscles and getting better at facilitating conversations toward a purposeful result.   Any creative person can tell you that innovation is not possible on a schedule or by assignment only. “Be Creative Now!” is an exhortation not grounded in reality.  Getting true innovation with teams means patiently training the team to think in a new medium, then encouraging and expecting them to do so.

Take a hard look at your culture.

Innovation is a messy process. This can be an annoyance to the manager looking to meet a deadline and drive timely messages to their intended audience.  My experience tells me that innovation cannot thrive in an environment of strict control.  Creating a culture where innovation thrives requires a balance between focus on the subject at hand and an open and questioning mind.  One of the biggest mistakes made in business is to jump too quickly into figuring out what is wrong with an idea someone is proposing. Innovation almost never occurs where there is a high risk of criticism.  Allowing for trial and failure with encouragement is the best way to guarantee innovation.  Snap judgments of other people’s ideas-not so much.  Culture can be both the number one enabler and number one killer of innovation.

Remember that innovation doesn’t happen until people are affected.

I have had the great honor of working with extremely innovative people over the last several years.  At Allora and Intouch I get to spend a lot of time with creative professionals and product innovators. I have learned an important truth from these very hardworking and intelligent people: the plausibility of an idea worth innovating and executing is directly proportional to the benefit the idea brings to people.  Innovation’s endgame is helping, inspiring, teaching, creating, healing, etc.  It is one of the highest forms of interacting with our world and deserves our attention, our best thinking, our patience and our time.

What’s next for Pharma and the iPad?

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