Build Your Innovation Team the Right Way

by Jacqueline Zhou

As with any other change management initiative, launching an Innovation Program requires a team and governance structure in order for it to be properly managed, evaluated, and to ensure a timely and successful implementation of ideas.

Our five best practices below will help you build the minimum viable governance structure that your organization needs to kick off an innovation program.

The Five Best Practices for Minimum Viable Innovation Governance Structure

1. Appoint an Innovation Leader

The Innovation Leader is the executive sponsor of the program and is often a part of the senior leadership team. The role of the Innovation Leader is:

  • To establish the strategy of the engaged innovation program, and to introduce the topic of discussion to community members.
  • To obtain insight and support from other senior leaders.
  • To provide the Innovation Manager (see next point) with strategic direction on tactical elements.

2. Assign an Innovation Manager

The Innovation Manager acts as the point of contact for the community and other members of the governance structure (aka the “go-to person” of the Innovation Program). This individual leads any and all essential tasks for launching an innovation program, including coordinating the logistics for training as well as aligning the Idea Partners (see next point) with the Innovation Leader.

3. Select Your Innovation Partners

Every program should have one Innovation Partner from every function within the organization. These individuals manage, evaluate, and then implement top ideas from you innovation structure and respond back to the community. Innovation partners are the key to driving engagement and are accountable for the ideas that have been assigned to them by the Innovation Manager.  Innovation Partners are the key to community engagement and play a crucial role in getting ROI from ideas.

4. Ensure You Have Technological Support

Your technology support team has the job of providing recommendations on integration approaches based on your organization’s business requirements. These individuals are responsible for configuring the technology integration between the organization’s internal systems and the innovation management software, and work closely with the Innovation Manager to schedule activities and to strategically align the initiative’s overall direction.

If you’re running an innovation program from your email inbox (see this helpful idea tracker), you may not need technology support as a key part of your team.

5. Employ a Communications Support Team

The communications support team is responsible for developing internal communications content and strategies that will be used to engage your employees. The ongoing goal of these individuals is to continually generate excitement and awareness of the program, as well as keep the community updated on the progression of ideas.

Once you’ve built you innovation team, you can start to work on the other 4 Key Elements for a Successful Innovation Program.

Build a common language of innovation on your team

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