Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Innovation Teams and Internal credibility

Working with various organizations I have realized that there are 2 types of organizations with reference to Innovations....

1. Organizations that value Innovation and support the objective
2. Organizations that think Innovation is a superstitious concept.

I worked for both type of organizations, eventually there were people in organizations that believed in Innovations, but people within who dont realize what Innovation spans upto. And I worked for organizations which didnt believe in Innovation at all yet had people who were born Innovators. All of these experiences have added a great deal of value to my minimal viable version of awareness about Innovation. When I analysed more on why Organizations that dont believe in Innovations really dont believe in Innovations and why organizations that believe in Innovations fail.. I get through one important fact of life...

Internal Credibility

The trust of your own people. Believe me or not but most of the Innovation teams are challenged by Internal credibility.. to a fact that some Innovation teams do not even take off because there is lack of support from Internal people on it. When you hear statements like "I dont think this will work out", "What's the use of Innovation when the output is not in time?" and so and so.... believe me your Innovation sector is weak.... its time to reform the objective and expectations. A few months ago I sent a email to my team asking them to nominate themselves or Team members for what I called "Innovation Time off" a time off every week or part of every day to work on a project that can bring some Innovation to the Product we work on. In response I got 2 people who initiated thoughtful work on 2 important things...
1. A framework to change delegation model on UI.
2. A snippet that will remove client side dependencies of the application, to access client side data.

Both items rendered and ideate d in a different way for different things. Then came a time when support was needed... weeks of effort when doesn't show any tangible work value questions arise. This is the time when Internal credibility comes into question...

You need a reform when statements/questions like the one below are asked:

1. Is there a timeline to this deliverable?
2. How can we make sure that you get this done?
3. Can we do X instead of Y? Our customers need Y desperately.
4. Its hard for me to justify what you guys are doing, can you tell me what?
5. We failed doing Innovations last time, How sure are we about this time?
6. We have a Innovation team that cares of this. Ask them.

These are the things that takes the blood and oxygen out of your Innovators... If these questions come from customers its fine as they are expecting you to do something, however they dont come from customers.. when it comes from your internal staff... its a killer.

What can you do instead to support your Innovation teams?

1. Ask them on how is it going? Do you want brainstorming sessions to discuss more on your ideas?
2. Hand them a cup of coffee and take them on a Innovation stroll(I will write on this soon)
3. Offer help to support.
4. Innovation leaders should be made to present their progress in various internal meetings.

So what do you do when your Team tries to build a Innovation team? You standup with it or face your back?

How do you support your Innovators?

Do you think you have Innovators within?