Skip to content Skip to footer

Convincing C-Suite: establishing innovation evangelists in your senior team

For all the tremendous potential of Corporate innovation, it has little value in isolation.

wave effect mobile

That’s because innovation is about both process and impact. Getting innovation right absolutely means continually refining and evolving its process. But that process is near meaningless if it doesn’t in some way serve the wider company.

Innovation’s impact, of course, doesn’t have to be about revolutionary released products and services, directly ramping up bottom line or building approaches that have a radical influence on a Corporation’s organisational strategy. Those outcomes are tremendous when they happen, but the pay-off of well supported Corporate innovation presents a broad feast, that can include learning from failure, developing and sharing knowledge, delivering subtle innovations to a single department or division, and even simply shifting workforce mindset or invigorating the engagement of a given team.

As such, the most meaningful, impactful innovation is always integrated with the very fabric of a Corporation, and its teams, strategy and culture. It’s commonly accepted that innovation teams and initiatives should never be silos, but how does one actually integrate them with a broader business?

There are likely two direct answers to that question; backing from C-suite, and broad employee engagement.

Here we’ll focus on C-suite.

Firstly, bear in mind C-suite don’t just hold the purse strings. Their approval will engender more open collaboration with other departments and outfits, the freedom for innovation to be truly inventive, and the opportunity to be both daring and experimental. And here ‘approval’ doesn’t just mean a signature at the bottom of a proposal document. A C-suite needs to engaged, and ideally enthusiastic. Making C-suite your most vocal evangelists might be a tall order, but if achieved it could be a remarkably powerful outcome and for more than just budget. And getting even somewhere near that lofty goal may bring manifold gains.
Fortunately, there are things you can do that are – at least in principle – relatively straightforward.

Define innovation and its aims simply and clearly within – and to – your Corporation. Innovation is a somewhat abstract craft, but it is worth the effort to create a brief, clear and direct means to communicate the discipline’s broader aims, process and potential to C-suite. It may even be worth building something of an internal ‘pitch-deck’ for innovation as a general concept, and even concocting the much talked about ‘elevator pitch’ for innovation itself. Furthermore, as pointed out by Brant Cooper of management consulting firm Moves the Needle, you may even want to drop innovation jargon – and even the word ‘innovation’ itself – in favour of familiar terms like ‘growth’ and ‘scalability’. Communicate innovation to C-suite in the language of C-suite.

Similarly, establish a narrative that frames your innovation efforts as integral to the broader Corporation’s journey and history. Conversations with C-suite should assert that your innovation effort broadly compliments the heritage, present goals, future aims and the broader vision of the Corporation itself. Make ‘innovation narrative’ and ‘Corporation narrative’ one and the same.

Establish a metric to measure impact. Collectively we may be some way from a definitive, universal metric to track and report on the impact of Corporate innovation. But thinking about a metric – and communicating that to C-suite – can serve as a means to engage the staff that will ultimately enable the potential of your efforts. And there is plenty to think about, as we’ve touched on before.

Involve C-suite. Don’t just talk with your senior team about approval. Make it clear that they are integral to the potential of innovation. Consider building short form initiatives or innovation workshops that directly welcome or involve C-suite to foster ‘innovation mindedness’ in that senior team. Encourage ‘radical candor’, allowing C-suite to be entirely frank. If they are to be your ultimate enabler and evangelist, allow them to be part of the conversation around innovation. Let them participate and observe, and learn from you.

Frame ‘impact’, ‘disruption’ and ‘change’. Fair or otherwise, innovation can be seen as disruptive to the well oiled and long-established machinery of an efficient Corporation. It is understood by some – fairly or otherwise – as an interfering force, and one that is too many stages removed from the core of a business. Simply put, it is easy to make unfair assumptions about innovation as a troublesome and overly academic entity. As such, you may have to do some internal ‘PR’ of your own to manage expectation and ‘educate up’ to C-suite.

Change is required regardless of innovation. Innovation, to a degree, exists to meet and guide inevitable change. It can be seen as an agent to manage inevitable change, rather than a catalyst for disruption for the sake of disruption. Communicate that clearly to C-suite; innovation is future-proofing against the inevitable. Shrinking support for innovation won’t mean change isn’t coming. Innovation is a tool to optimise and master change. It is not a disruptive force, but a force that can meet and guide disruption.

Assert the value of innovation. Innovation is sometimes seen as secondary to or outside of the core aims of a business. As such (and related to the above point) be confident in communicating the value of innovation. C-suite needs innovation to thrive, and even survive.

Don’t fear innovation’s tangential gains. A golden rule of innovation must be ‘never practice innovation for the sake of it’. Innovation theatre, innovation purely as a marketing exercise and innovation to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ are ill-advised motivations or approaches. But innovation can bring marketing opportunities and competitive advantages. While it is important to communicate that those are secondary gains, do not be afraid to communicate all the advantages innovation brings when asserting the value to C-suite.

None of the above are absolutely rigid rules. The approach you take in securing approval and support from C-suite will be as distinct as the individuals that make up your chief staff, and the relationships you have with them. You may even find yourself having to convert lower-level managers and other non-C-suite colleagues to build the momentum needed to take your message to the senior team.

One thing, though, is consistent. Innovation has tremendous value and potential that can impact every facet of a large business. You just need to remind C-suite of that reality.


Whitespace Company of the Year

Company News

Whitespace: Company of the Year 2019

Winners! Whitespace is delighted to announce that we picked up Company of the Year and Deal of the Year at the Digital DNA Awards.


Whitespace sets trajectory for strong growth in 2022 and 2023

Tech company Whitespace, with offices in Belfast, has ambitious plans for growth in 2022 that will see the company doubling its staff, potentially expanding to 100 employees in total by 2023.
Team Insights Andy

Thought Leadership

''Don't call me an Entrepreneur''

Whitespace Co-Founder, Andy McCartney shares why he really doesn't want to be called an entrepreneur.
CIC 2020 Meetup


Corporate and Startup collaboration in a post-COVID-19 world

Watch our virtual June CIC meet featuring BP, RBS and Wayra
Team Insights Tendayi Viki

Thought Leadership

How 'Intrapreneurs' can drive Transformation

In this special round-up, we summarise key takeaways from the latest Whitespace webinar, which saw Tendayi Viki lead a workshop looking at the potential of understanding intrapreneurialism as distinct.
Nurture your Network

Thought Leadership

Nurturing your Network: The skill you should develop in 2023

The networking skills we think you need to nurture your Network 2023
WS Pfizer Innovation Challenge

Client Work

Whitespace & Pfizer UK launch the AI in Histopathology tech Innovation Challenge

2020 saw Whitespace partner with one of the worlds largest tech companies and leading pharmaceutical company, Pfizer.
WS Byz Gen Partnership

Client Work

Whitespace Partner with UK-Based Blockchain & Digital innovation experts, Byzgen

Whitespace is delighted to announce that it has formed an exciting new partnership with ByzGen – a fast-growing Blockchain company with an outstanding in-demand platform called FALKOR.
Dot 6 Supplier

Company News

Whitespace is now listed on the DOS 6 framework for Public Sector

Whitespace is listed on the Commercial Digital Outcomes (DOS 6) Framework for procurement of professional services related to digital outcomes and digital specialists.
WS Enel IBM Innovation Challenge

Client Work

Whitespace & IBM partner to launch Innovation Challenge alongside, Enel Energy

This is a great opportunity for ambitious companies to help solve problems for one of Europe's household names
WS Team

Company News

Whitespace move to a 4 day working week!

Whitespace will move to a four-day working week permanently for one Friday of every month and all Fridays in July, August and December.
Team Insight UX

Thought Leadership

If you're not willing to change your processes, then you're probably not innovating

There are those who think because they have a policy, it’s job done. No need to have a difficult conversation or review processes. The potential for change has been readied for the moment it happens.
Meet Richard

Company News

Meet Whitespace's new CIO, Serial Innovator, Richard Kennedy

We are delighted to announce that Richard Kennedy has joined Whitespace as our new CIO – a true innovator that will be instrumental in helping Whitespace achieve its vision for 2022 and beyond.
Digital Product of the Year eamli

Company News

Whitespace product 'eamli' wins the Digital Innovation award at this years Digital DNA Awards!

Yes, it’s true - our very own decision intelligence platform 'eamli' is an award-winning solution.
WS Sideways6 Partnership

Company News

Whitespace partners with employee idea specialists, Sideways 6

We're excited to announce our collaboration agreement with Sideways 6, specialists in employee ideas and employee-led innovation.
WS Coventry University Collaboration


Coventry University & Whitespace join forces to bring the best capabilities to innovative projects & programmes

Following two successful ventures, Coventry University has signed a two-year collaboration agreement with UK innovation tech company, Whitespace.
The Long Con Andy Mc Cartney

Thought Leadership

Andy McCartney (Whitespace Co-Founder) talks innovation and automation with the The Long Con

Whitespace Co-Founder Andy McCartney joined Becky Liggero Fontana at The Long Con for a chat on innovation and automation.
WS GSK Partnership

Client Work

GSK teams up with Whitespace to embrace an API-First approach that connects consumers directly to products

GSK consumer healthcare teams up with Whitespace to embrace an API-First approach
WS Co Founders Product Team

Company News

The Whitespace product team are accepted as coaches for this years Catalyst 'Co-Founders' programme

Emma Mulholland (Lab Product Lead) and Chris Shields (Product Manager) have been accepted as Coaches into this year's Catalyst ‘Co-Founders’ programme.
WS IBM Innovation Challenge

Client Work

Whitespace & IBM launch the Responsible Computing Tech Innovation Challenge

Never one to shy away from a challenge, we're extremely pleased to announce our latest collaboration with IBM - and this time we are inviting startups and SMEs from across the EMEA region to take part in the Responsible Computing Tech Innovation Challenge.
Emergent Alliance

Client Work

Whitespace facilitates the Emergent Alliance. A Covid-19 data alliance featuring IBM, Rolls Royce, Microsoft, and Google Cloud.

Drawing on a diverse collaboration of corporates, individuals, NGOs and Governments, the Alliance will contribute expertise, data, and resources to inform decision making on regional and global economic challenges to aid societal recovery post Covid-19.
WS Shell Innovation Challenge

Client Work

Whitespace & Shell launch the Digitalisation Innovation Challenge

Whitespace partnered with Shell and IBM to launch and deliver the Shell Digitalisation Innovation Challenge.
Who are Whitespace

Company News

Who We Are

We're a Belfast and London-based technology company with extensive expertise in product and service development, innovation and venture building.
WS Crisis Parternship

Client Work

Whitespace hosts Discovery Workshops with charity, Crisis

Throughout July and August 2022 Whitespace ran Discovery Workshops during to support Crisis on their journey to invest in startups offering innovative solutions to end homelessness, as part of their Venture Studio.
Shift Coventry University Collaboration

Client Work

Coventry University utilises Whitespaces' Shift Platform to optimise digital collaboration

Whitespace developed tool Shift Platform is being adopted by teams at Coventry University to support a multi-million-pound research project.
G Cloud Supplier

Company News

Whitespace awarded as a supplier to the Government's G-Cloud 13 framework

Whitespace has gained “Approved Supplier” status from CCS for the latest release of the Government’s public sector procurement framework – G-Cloud 13.
Diversity Equality Inclusivity

Company News

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity

At Whitespace, we believe that we will deliver bigger and better outputs with a diverse team.
We are hiring Web

Company News

People & Culture Coordinator

Looking for a new role in Human Resources? Join our ever-growing team!
Team Insights Research is Key

Thought Leadership

Why Research is Key When Developing a New Product or Service

Whitespaces' Research Lead shares why they believe every innovator should include research as part of their innovation strategy.
Innovation Strategy Innovation Lab

Thought Leadership

The Crucial Role of an Innovation Strategy

Whitespaces' Chief Innovation Officer and Managing Director shares why having a strategy before creating a new product or service is key.
Dare to Dream

Thought Leadership

How Early-Stage Validation Enables Innovators to “Dare to Dream”

Our Head of UX shares why validating your innovation idea is key to your success.
Web Client Mentor360

Client Work

New Client Announcement - Mentor360

Whitespace is working with Mentor360. A pioneering platform that seeks to revolutionise upstream healthcare maintenance.

Thought Leadership

Whitespace at DSEI 23 Fireside Chat

Forging a Stronger Future: Developing a GCAP SME ecosystem approach that delivers value creation for all participants.
DSEI Panel

Thought Leadership

Whitespace at DSEI 23 - ''Innovating at speed - faster-than-agile MVPs through Rapid Prototyping'' Panel Session

The theme for this session was Innovating at Speed - faster-than-agile MVPs through Rapid Prototyping.
Paul Jenkinson Web

Thought Leadership

The Transformational Impact AI Can Have on our Society

Our CEO, Paul Jenkinson shares why he believes the AI Summit is massively missing the point.
Liam Burns Article Website 1

Thought Leadership

The Power of AI Agents in 2024: Transforming Our World

The Power of AI Agents in 2024: Transforming Our World
Top 10 Innovation in 2024 Website Article

Thought Leadership

Top 10 Innovation Trends for 2024: Navigating the Future Landscape

What can we expect in the coming year? Our team invites you to dive into the top 10 innovation trends that will likely dominate 2024.
UK Police Charter Article Image

Company News

Whitespace signs the UK Police Industry Charter

The inception of the Police Industry Charter aims to establish fundamental principles that industry partners and UK policing mutually commit to uphold.

The Benefits of AI Agents for Public Sector Bodies

In the world of public services, the integration of AI is already starting to be a transformative force, propelling public sector bodies in the UK toward enhanced efficiency, improved services, and innovative problem-solving.