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Pros Share 10 Tips for Innovating Up
Taking big swings and trying new things are what keep companies moving forward. So we talked masterful internal innovators and got their favorite tips for moving big ideas up the chain of command without causing any kinks.

Whether you’ve spent 10 years at an organization, or 10 days, navigating the internal waters to move ideas forward is a tricky business. There are egos, relationships, hierarchies, and past failures to contend with. It’s enough to make you want to hide in a spreadsheet. Don’t despair, dear innovator, the work you are attempting is worth it. Here are 10 tips for innovating up from pros who know best.

Clarify the Goal

You can see what you want to do, in your heart you know why, but you will need to do a little explaining to bring your bosses (and their stamp of approval) along for the ride. Your first step is attaching a specific, attractive goal to your innovation, suggests Robin Schwartz, Managing Partner/Content Writer for MFG Jobs.

Become a Mentee

“Before you can add value to an organization, you need to be a trusted voice,” warns Alexander Lowry, Professor of Finance at Gordon College. Lowry suggests building a mentorship relationship with key stakeholders to get them on your side and singing your praises.

Act it Out

We are all subject to stagnation in the workplace and that can stifle creativity. To get those juices flowing again, Rita Kakati Shah, Founder and CEO of Uma, suggests trying to shake things up with communication exercises that bring different teams together.

Deck it Out

As companies grow, they can become more risk averse, instead relying on what has worked in the past. If you have an innovative idea you want to push forward, Tracy Julien, VP of Marketing for Guided Choice warns that you may face some roadblocks along the way but she has a simple solution - make a slide deck! This could help you work through the potential questions and give you a chance to outline the benefits of your proposal in a familiar format.

Encourage Open Feedback

Creating a culture of open feedback was important to Owner Deborah Sweeney. Sweeney believes that giving, receiving, and acting on great feedback empowers staff and creates better experiences for customers. If feedback isn’t part of your corporate culture, start locally by encouraging the sharing of feedback in your department and the departments you regularly share work with.

Use Your Data

Wanna hear a secret? Bosses love data. It helps them understand the goals and reasons behind risky innovations. If your innovation is based on a trackable, spreadsheetable problem, it’s more likely to move forward, Robin Schwartz shared.

Engage the Entire Org

When a business begins, it’s like a speedboat - quick and easy to maneuver. But as time goes on, that sassy little speedboat can be slowed down by people and processes, making it feel more like a battleship. If that’s happening at your organization, Shyam Krishna Iyer, Founder of SKI Charities, suggests that you encourage autonomy at all levels of the organization to speed up innovation.

Align Idea with Vision

What do your leaders want for the company? A big question, right? The answer may help you drive your innovation forward, suggests Michelle Kubot, Marketing Director at Ambrosia Treatment Center.

Best Idea Wins

Ideas are the lifeblood of your organization. Fiona Adler, Founder at and Writer at, believes stagnation comes about when a org’s culture stops celebrating individual contributions. You can help by putting your risker ideas up for debate.

Reward Innovative Failures

Go beyond the platitude of asking employees to ‘think outside the box’ and instead encourage big swings by creating a culture that rewards innovative failures, suggests Ryne Higgins, Senior Manager of E-commerce at Peacock Alley.

No matter what level of your organization you operate at, you can lead a charge for innovation by smoothing an idea’s path to the top.