By: Rob Hoehn
Our customers are launching new campaigns every day. They’re solving problems related to process inefficiency, performance, sustainability, workplace environments, and beyond.
And although our focus at IdeaScale is about creating a software solution that makes it easy for our customers to repeatedly ask questions and get solutions on their most pressing issues, we like to go through a checklist with our customers to make sure that they’ve thought through the most critical touchpoints of that strategy. And there’s one resource that we go over every time we bring a new customer onboard: a template to build their innovation team.
Because innovation management is still an emerging discipline, we want to make sure that our point of contact knows all the skill sets that they have to have accounted for in order to run a successful program. Sometimes it’s one person wearing multiple hats, but more often it’s a group of people who are each bringing a particular skill set to the table and there are a few team members that you simply have to have:
Leaders. This group of people set the challenge and the vision for this program. They offer the program purpose, but they’re also responsible for removing obstacles and coordinating efforts. If you don’t have a few people ensuring that everything is progressing smoothly and meaningfully, it’s unlikely that you’ll get cooperation from the rest of the organization. So you’ve either got to find leadership buy-in or you’ve got to become a leader yourself.
Experts. Your experts serve the purposes of both program administration and idea nurturing. Maybe they provide the communications expertise that helps you craft the perfect problem statement or maybe they know enough about the critical business issue that they can help provide the criteria against which all good ideas will have to be evaluated. Either way, you want to engage with these expert stakeholders early and make them your allies and critical eye so that you improve and provide value.
Community. If you’re creating an innovation management program for an organization, odds are that you want to embed innovation in your culture. And if you want an innovative culture, then you have to bring your community along with you – both your advocates and your detractors and make space for all of them in this new program. Our customers at Western Power, for example, always bring in the top ten people they expect to be their advocates on a new campaign… but they also bring in the top ten people most likely to be their detractors to help them stress test new ideas. By doing this, they build consensus that keeps everyone honest.
It’s also likely that you’ll be surprised by a few of the participants who come forward and want to volunteer their own time to be part of some new innovative initiatives. So never forget the community as a whole that needs your time and attention. Who are they? What do they care about? How can you bring value to them as they participate in your program and help build the future of your organization?
About the author
Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.