3 Reasons for NFPs to get into Innovation

An innovation pipeline, funneling exciting ideas towards real solutions.

An innovation pipeline, funneling exciting ideas towards real solutions.

Innovating: make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

What I am specifically talking about in this post is about Innovation Pipelines. Imagine that your organization has a big funnel that lots of ideas can go into, but only the best concepts come out. This is your Pipeline. By feeding the funnel with ideas and developing the best ones as you move forward, your organization can have more opportunities when finding solutions for your challenges.

A less robust, linear path.

A less robust, linear path.

Compare this with a straight line – one idea is quickly decided on ---à it gets developed --à and moved into action. While this may seem straightforward, ONE idea is not a good process for finding your BEST ideas and preparing you for unexpected circumstances. Creating a pipeline allows your organization to be nimble in the following ways;

1.       Be Prepared for Change.

Change is inevitable. Perhaps a national organization expands to your city or increased internet access changes the needs of your participants, how will you respond quickly? By having a pipeline of ideas that anticipate potential challenges, your organization can quickly look at alternate solutions to your challenges without having to go back to the drawing board.

2.       Grant Flexibility.

You have defined your goals, they align with your mission and fit into a larger strategic plan. But when grant RFPs are released, they have their own details that may not be perfectly matched. Do you design your programming to fit the grant?

There are many paths you can take that can help you reach your goals. If the ideas going into your pipeline explore these different pathways and gradually get developed along the way, your leadership can have them top of mind when making critical decisions. As grants come along, you can look to your pipeline for strong concepts that can be integrated into current programs or turned into new ones. As concepts get eliminated from the pipeline, you will also know what opportunities to avoid.

3.       A Backup Plan.

Failure happens. While it is a part of life, our ability to rebound can make the difference in the overall success of our organization. When faced with a less than successful program, having a pipeline of explored program concepts can help you quickly decide how to redesign the program or transfer resources to a new program that improves your impact.

Now that you understand the value in creating a Pipeline – where do you start? It doesn’t have to be complicated. Reach out to emily@teenybig.com to find out how a quick workshop can get your team thinking about the future.