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Turning ideas into action – how to kick start your innovation team

by | May 1, 2014

I’m currently working with several organisations to develop their creative capabilities and to deliver their great ideas into action. The projects vary from a team of 60 people in-house to working with the Head of Creative & Insight at a leading PR agency.  There are some real nitty-gritty questions that need to be addressed before setting up any kind of creativity or innovation function and I thought it might be useful to share some of the questions we’ve been discussing.

  • Who will the individual / team report into?
  • Is there a clear outline of their role?
  • Will any time be allocated to it? (there needs to be)
  • Is there any incentive? (not neccessarily financial)
  • How will you know if it’s working?
  • How often will they meet as a group or will you report back to the leadership?
  • How will you support the individual/team?
  • How will you share the learnings?
  • How will the innovation team be connected to the overall business? (it must be, like an umbilical cord)
  • If it’s one person how are you going to prevent bottlenecks?

I’m doing this at the same time as researching Innovation for a module on my MA into Creativity, Innovation and Leadership. There’s a great book on setting up innovation teams within big organisations called The other side of innovation. Solving the execution challenge by Govindarajan and Trimble. I cannot recommend it highly enough as a guide for anyone wanting to support innovation in their business and wondering how to go about it. Based on 12 year’s research of innovative companies it suggests that companies follow one of several models for innovation. These are in a nutshell:

  1. innovation = ideas
  2. innovation = ideas + execution
  3. innovation = ideas + motivation (Model 1)
  4. innovation = ideas + process (Model 2)
  5. innovation = ideas + leaders
  6. innovation = idea + leader + team + plan (Model 3)

The most successful model in terms of numbers of ideas / products to market is model 3 but all the others work to varying degrees. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to get an innovation initiative underway in your organisation please get in touch with lucy@nowgocreate.co.uk

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