How do you organize teams for innovation?

Today organisations are leaner than ever. The recent downturn has left organisations with no spare capacity and they struggle to make teams available for innovation initiatives. It is often a challenge to complete the day job! Of course it may be that innovation IS the day job, and that is great, but we find that most organisations need to formally take people out of their current roles and focus them on specific innovation challenges.

So, one question that we are always asked and one that often has the most significance for innovation projects is this; ‘how do we organise and resource our project team?’ This is particularly important where there is no central innovation group and we are at the start of an innovation journey. This is also crucially important where the proposed project members have full-time roles that can not adequately be covered in their absence.  But often these people are simply the right people for the project and some compromise has to be reached.

Given the above constraints, that virtually all organisations face, we find that the following actions can have a huge impact;

1. Use of a systemic approach to innovation works best since there is a structure around which support for the teams can be built.  Such an approach, e.g. our 3-Diamond approach, focuses the project teams around key activities and key deliverables.  Pressure points can be identified in advance and support organised accordingly whether it be via comprehensive training materials or one-on-one coaching.


2. We work with a small core team, that is usually but not always full-time, and we ‘borrow’ expert resources at appropriate times to contribute their expertise to the project, whether it be for an ideation session, to build out first concepts, or to plan market launch. Using such an approach also has a secondary benefit in that it ‘spreads the gospel’ of innovation far and wide within the organisation, thus building greater awareness and developing capability in more people.

3. Use of an innovation platform that facilitates capture of knowledge and progresses project deliverables improves the effectiveness of teams.  Such platforms, e.g. our Launchpad Application, can allow project team members to work virtually thus extending the reach of the project and also allows for global project teams to contribute in such a way that the ball can be picked up by a team member when they arrive at work the next day.  Increasingly organisations are looking to use leading edge software solutions to drive greater effectiveness with teams.

Of course as well as the organisation of the project there are critical issues around selection of project members and the complementary skills and competencies that drive innovation success .. but we’ll leave that for another blog post 🙂


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