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Management

Innovation is more important than ever in our dynamic global markets. But what is the right innovation organization structure for you at this time, given your maturity, objectives, resources and culture?

Do you stand up a formal Innovation Office with a leader?

Does Innovation report into IT, the CTO, or the Chief Strategy Officer?

I often find that the structure and governance of Innovation at Global 1,000 organizations is one of the most vexing, controversial if not political issues to be addressed.  And indeed, this issue must be addressed for success or innovation will go the way of Knowledge Management and other pressing initiatives that lost traction.

Here's what I am seeing.  A vast number of organizations have experienced the folly of centralized, silo-based Innovation with a chief innovation officer.  Without belaboring the matter, a centralized function creates a fictional sense of accountability and control over efforts, but, it is quite costly in terms of engagement, field ownership, diversity of views and even speed of results.

Is there a better way?

We at Imaginatik think so.  Several recent meetings in July 2010 have confirmed the following pattern:

  • BU or field ownership:  innovation efforts and teams are being pushed outward in a distributed manner
  • Relevance increases:  because innovation in this way is closer to the P&L and strategic thrust of the BU, there is a much higher likelihood of manager and associate interest to participate..to care..to go the extra mile (versus the Innovation silo asking for their help)
  • Numerous innovation initiatives at the same time:  again, a distributed Innovation model permits the power of "crowdsourcing" to take effect whereby numerous independent, powerful innovation teams all can work on important problems, challenges or pursuits...fewer bottlenecks...less bureaucracy
  • Probably cheaper:  while I have yet to confirm it, I suspect the distributed innovation model achieves much higher Return on Innovation (ROI) than a traditional old-world Innovation Team/Silo concept

So what's missing?  An innovation coach.  In fact, we also see the following situations with distributed innovation organizations:

  • lumpy success:  the innovation teams may be highly skilled in innovation, not skilled at all, or only somewhat skilled, thus, there is an n unpredictability or quality to success
  • insufficient innovation DNA or skill:  frustration sets in when additional innovation skills are needed or would benefit some teams, only to find that such skills are unavailable or otherwise committed to specific projects
  • slower outcomes than desired:  in short, the innovation engine can slow down to a crawl...precisely what your CEO desired to avoid
  • lack of network/wisdom coordination: finally, without an Innovation Coach at the center of the network, even with a terrific Innovation Management system, it is possible that duplication, waste, missed opportunities and untapped expertise will become characteristics of the Innovation ecosystem at your organization.

Solution?  An Innovation Coach.

Retain as a consultant, or hire on a full-time basis, an experienced Innovation Coach with a full workbench of templates, collaboration techniques, solution models and effective interpersonal skills to assist your distributed teams to attain dramatically higher levels of success.  We have seen this model work wonders.

This Innovation Coach embraces a servant worker/helper mentality: he or she is not after power, organizational footprint or promotions, rather, they should be retained and evaluated on their ability to coach teams to greater success than would have otherwise been possible.  360 feedback will tell you how well this works within 6 months.  An excellent Innovation Coach has a few key attributes you should look for (be careful, this person must be more than a process-driven PMO type manager; his/her role is to INSPIRE....SHARE....SKILL DEVELOP):

  • superior communications skills
  • exceptional trust-based relationships
  • 5-10 years of in-field Innovation management, consulting or other related services
  • a deep passion for Results....not just activity....as she/he must drive teams to do more with less
  • an extensive library of best practice technique and methods...fully documented for cost effectiveness and repeatability (no one-offs please; no on-site learning at your expense)
  • ideally, some understanding of your industry or a related value chain

Global 1,000 organizations can now enjoy the best of all worlds with a distributed Innovation organization model AND the requisite Innovation DNA/Know-how to achieve breakthrough results with an Innovation coach.

Is this the right time to attract such a Coach to your global efforts?

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