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When it comes to the development of a process for innovation, it is critically important that the process fosters both top down and bottom up innovation. Whenever we develop and install a best-practice innovation process for our clients, we ensure that the process stimulates both types of innovation (top down and bottom up) because both are essential to creating the best innovation outcomes.

Inspiring bottom up innovation is essential because often, it is the people on the ‘front line’ who identify the biggest opportunities for innovation. Top down innovation however, is equally important because it provides focus for innovation; it is obviously inefficient to have people focusing on developing innovations that are not on-strategy.

Whilst the development of a world class, best-practice process can be a complex and intricate undertaking, here are a few quick tips for how you might try to foster both top down and bottom up innovation in your organisation:

Top down:

1. Develop your organisation’s innovation missions (See my previous post here for more details on doing that!) and communicate them to the broader organisation.

2. Facilitate some environment scanning (customer-centric research to identify where the biggest opportunities for achieving the missions exist) and ideation (perhaps through your innovation champion group, if you have one) that will result in ideas for achieving the missions.

Bottom up:

1. Create a platform where anyone in the organisation can submit opportunities that they have identified (or problems that need to be solved), along with any ideas they have.

2. Ensure that what employees have submitted is then developed in line with one of the organisation’s innovation missions. Whenever we develop an innovation process, we create a single, centralised process that sits away from the hierarchical structure of the organisation and which has been designed to deal with both inputs that are top down (including missions that guide innovation) and also bottom up to ensure that the most important opportunities for innovation are seized.