Innovation is not just strategic or technology based, but rather can be very effectively applied at the tactical level. It requires accepting the strategic direction as a way to focus thinking. But once that is done, it takes the same out-of-the-box thinking that any other type of innovation requires. The focus on tactical innovation is about how we can most effectively get the strategic initiative done. It requires a lot of team management and communication skills, domain knowledge and expertise, and leadership. This article explores how to get into an innovative frame of mind at the tactical level.
This is the second of a series of four articles on “Innovation”, where we explore how to innovate at various levels and in different domains. This article, Part 2 in the series, “Innovate for Tactical Improvements,” looks at how to innovate while focused on implementing at the tactical level. Part 1, “Innovate for Strategic Gains”, looks at how to get into the right mindset to innovate at the strategic level. Part 3, “Innovate for Incremental Benefits,” raises the idea that innovation is not just done up front, but can effectively transform projects in the execution phase. Finally, Part 4, “Innovate to Increase Personal Effectiveness”, encourages you to apply innovation in a number of ways related to our most important resources, people!
The strategy in place…and the direction set. That leaves a lot of room to innovate! Here are five things to think about to innovate effectively at the tactical level:
- How can the work be best organized? There are lots of good approaches. Key considerations include quality parameters, time frame, and clarity of requirements up front. These will frame your discussions about some different possibilities. Incorporate some flexibility, as you may want to change as things become clearer, as you experiment, or as you move into different phases.
- What can best motivate the team? You need to know the people…as different things will motivate different people. That means there will need to be some things that motivate the overall team, but other things that speak to the needs of individual team members. People change…so be prepared to maintain flexibility and vigilance on team motivation.
- How can the schedule be best managed? While any project will have at least a high level schedule for getting to the end point, the degree of specificity and detail will vary. It’s important to understand what’s appropriate for your situation, and to identify milestone points where certain achievements are made, and where greater clarity about the forward schedule can be obtained.
- What risks most need to be managed, and how? What are ALL the risks…and what is the best probability and impact estimate you can make for each? The combination of probability and impact will give you a good indication of priority of the risks. What can you do to manage the critical few that have the highest combination of probability and impact?
- How can costs best be controlled? Starting with a budget, the key is to measure everything at regular benchmarks. As in other areas, clarity is obtained as experience is accumulated…and as visibility improves as to what lies ahead. Recognize when you just don’t know, and budget and communicate accordingly.
Are you planning and open for innovative approaches at the tactical level?
This Article is Part of the Series: Innovation
These articles explore how to innovate at various levels and in different domains.