During the past 25 years I’ve seen a lot of innovation task forces come and go. Some of them looked good at the beginning and died a slow death. Some of them looked bad at the beginning and died a quick death. And some of them actually succeeded.
And so, at the risk of giving your task force one more task to do, please take a few minutes to review the following guidelines.
They will save you time. They will save you headaches. And they may even save your company…
20 TIPS FOR INNOVATION TASK FORCES
- Quit now if you’re not really into it.
- Make sure everyone else on the task force really wants to do the work.
- Get completely clear on what your “task” really is. Clear, as in specific, with definable deliverables.
- Establish clear agreements at your first meeting. Otherwise, prepare for chaos, wheel spinning, indecision, and the corporate hoky poky.
- Make sure you have committed senior leader sponsors.
- Clarify the lines of communication to senior leadership.
- Get clear agreements with the senior team. Know their expectations. And make sure they know yours.
- Meet more often than you want to. (If you only meet once a month, fuggedaboutit.)
- Make sure the person who facilitates your meetings knows what they’re doing.
- Limit the size of your task force to seven. Any more than ten and you’ll have a “task crowd.”
- Have a sense of urgency, not panic.
- Celebrate your successes, even if they’re small.
- No triangulating!
- Honor your commitments. (And renegotiate the ones you can’t meet).
- If a task force member starts to flake out, ask them to either step up or step out.
- Take notes at your meeting and distribute them within 24 hours.
- Invite non-task force members to participate in your meetings every once in a while. Don’t become a cult.
- Speak your truth to senior leaders. If they’re not holding up their end of the bargain, you’re wasting your time.
- Communicate what you’re doing to the rest of the company. Don’t keep it a secret.
- Do whatever is necessary to stay inspired. (All too often task forces implode under the collective weight of their own seriousness, stress, and attempt to appear professional).
What have I forgotten? Please add to this list, oh esteemed present and former innovation task force members. Let it rip!
Mitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of “Awake at the Wheel”, as well as the very popular Heart of Innovation blog.