July 2nd, 2019
Most true innovators are independent. They don’t fit well into the processes and procedures that are in play at most companies. They tend to be very interested in ideas and not very interested in developing the ideas.
This is normal and must be recognized and even embraced to fully utilize the potential of innovation. Innovators need to be the champions of new ideas on a continual basis, while keeping the team moving. But the weight of development is assumed by an innovation team, which must have a variety of talents. In this way, you must build a circle around your key innovators!
Who should be on the team? I suggest this matrix as a way to visualize the team members and structure:
The understanding of this “circling” of innovators is helpful in also developing the Innovators themselves. As we have discussed in other articles, anyone can be an Innovator and a process to enhance those skills are a good way to make them more effective. The circle improves output by filtering and enhancing raw ideas.
Innovation is not for the faint hearted as it requires commitment and discipline to succeed. And that’s because the process of turning ideas into profitable products and services is extensive, even with the right team structure. Many individual actions are needed, along with constant prototyping and testing. There are days and weeks where you discover the expected performance, or the product fails! A restart is needed and a boost to the psyche of the team is also needed.
For example, one of our past innovations included a new way to install without fasteners. We built new polymer and aluminum extrusions with very delicate shapes and used a new pressure sensitive adhesive tape to attach the assemblies. All the testing went great, until one day we discovered an older test unit in storage had severe slippage. We found that the long-term creep on this test product was much more than we expected. A restart was required and a reset of testing protocol was also needed. After many changes the project was successful, but it was also very different from our original concept.
One of the most important takeaways from that project includes how it cemented our thinking about the need to manage each idea with extensive testing and to constantly re-evaluate business cases as shown here:
Utilizing these sorts of teams and the “Innovation that works” method will improve your results!