GE & LPL Financial Share Tips For “Selling” Innovation & Design Thinking Internally
Gaining internal buy-in around something new can be tough for Innovation and Design Thinking leaders. Plus it is uncomfortable for the people from whom they are striving to win over and gain acceptance.
In our November hangout, “Selling Innovation and Design Thinking Internally” we heard tips and best practices from our panel of Innovation experts:
GE – Ann Marie Dumais, Open Innovation Leader & Design Strategist
LPL Financial – Ieasha Taitano, VP of Innovation and Design Thinking
Here are some of the highlights of the hangout.
DISCOMFORT NEEDS EMPATHY
Ann Marie of GE stressed that it is important to be the “facilitator” of innovation and not have people feel you are the “doer” of innovation. She let us know that GE does not use “innovation” as a term internally because it is in the blood of GE so it is assumed that “innovation is optimizing processes, services and products everywhere internally. This helps reinforce the position of “facilitator of innovation“. She added, “Being open and demonstrating empathy will help you gain acceptance across the groups.”
Ieasha of LPL Financial shared that people will need to be made to feel uncomfortable which means the Innovation Strategy and Design Thinking leaders must show patience and empathy towards their co-workers. This means, “As a practitioner, I will need to evangelize, inspire and convince them … and set expectations upfront that this will be uncomfortable but I will help you through it. And keep repeating this throughout the process.” She emphasized to be sure your authenticity is apparent because “you need to win their heart and mind. And some of the heart has to do with how you display empathy.”
It was interesting to hear Ieasha remind us that “by the time someone asks for Design Thinking, they don’t need proof of value. Now they need inspiration. They need you to help bring them forward.” So being an evangelist, empathetic listener and facilitator of innovation is critical to gaining internal acceptance as people work through the discomfort.
BARRIERS TO OVERCOME
In the hangout, two areas are discussed as being critical steps to take:
- Prepare the people who will do the work appropriately. Be sure sponsors know this is a process of discovery. They need to be able to lead through ambiguity even when process gets emotional.
- Get to really know your customer. Empathy tools need to be used and the value of third party design firms should be understood. Ieasha stated, “Firms often know what they don’t know. This means they can find things that other people are not seeing. However, it is hard for internal people to believe they don’t know something since they are the experts of their domain.”
TOP TIPS SUMMARIZED
GE and LPL Financial summarized their top tips with similar suggestions as the “Selling Innovation and Design Thinking Internally” hangout webinar wrapped up:
Tip #1: Design Thinking and Innovation leaders should clarify they are here to “facilitate innovation”.
Tip #2: Start with demonstrating empathy and prepare for the process by setting expectations upfront and having patience. Use an empathy map and get people to help you. Build your approach using the map around the biggest pain. Be sure to give credit to others when it is due.
Hats off to our panelists from GE and LPL Financial for a lively, informative panel discussion. For more of the tips they shared, check out the recorded session here.