Monday, March 26, 2007

Innovation - the people you need

How do you choose the right people who will support and nourish an innovation initiative? This article will attempt to provide you with a set of important roles together with some attributes of the people who should fill those roles. Here we are less concerned with titles or hierarchies and more concerned with getting the people who can help drive each critical role or task.

In reality, you will find people in your organization that will fit multiple roles; your goal is not to find an individual person for each role listed below, but rather to make sure your team covers each of the areas identified. Many times people can play multiple roles, especially in smaller organizations.

Connector Connectors have the ability to connect departments, organisations, and industries that normally would not be connected. Although they may be an expert in their own field, Connectors are generally people you'd describe as a mile wide and an inch deep. They know things about a variety of fields and industries and can connect them.

Collector The Collector holds the key position of collecting ideas and providing organised access to others who can help build the knowledge base and map what is already there.

Framer The Framer works with business functions and management to determine the appropriate evaluation schemes and frameworks teams should use to evaluate ideas fairly, transparently and consistently. The Framer can construct the evaluation frameworks which your team will use to evaluate your ideas, and ensure the evaluations are consistent and transparent.

Judge The Judge evaluates the ideas, using the Framer's framework. Generally speaking there are many "Judges" for any idea - often representing business functions (sales, marketing, R&D), regions or other business silos. Judges follow the evaluation criteria set by the Framers, who worked with all the entities involved in setting the evaluation framework.

Prototyper Many organisations are comfortable with their new product development (NPD) process. Once they know what to make or offer they are pretty efficient at producing it. The problem they have is how to capture ideas and evaluate them. The people identified above fulfill this need; however, a key person you must have is the Prototyper. Between evaluation and development there is an iterative process-the Prototyper is the master who makes rapid prototyping a reality.

Measurer You get what you measure. If you want your organisation to innovate, you have to establish what you will measure to make sure this happens. These metrics range from quantitative, such as time from idea submission to launch, to qualitative, such as what was learned from a failing.

Storyteller The Storyteller is one of the most valuable roles in the organization. The Storyteller's responsibility is to collect, keep, and tell stories about the organization. People respond to stories better than any other method of communication.

Lookout An important role in the identification of new trends and the analysis of those trends and the impacts they may have on your business is held by the Scout.
Scouts scan the future to understand how the industry is likely to change. What are the scenarios we might face? What technologies are in development that may affect our business? What might a competitor do that would upset our position in the market? What is hot in other industries that we might adapt?

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