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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 04-Oct-2018
Posted by: Michael PUTZ

How to create the right innovation team

 

Inventions are only very rarely the products of a single inventor, who secures himself from the outside world and researches in the silent chamber. Invention is now being created in teams. The correct composition of this group determines whether their output is also successful on the market. In this article, you will read about how you ideally fit your innovation team.

At the beginning of every innovation stands the idea. Nevertheless, you would be ill advised to fill your innovation team with particularly creative employees. Having an idea is easy. To pursue them within the company and even bring them to market maturity. In order to launch innovations, many different knowledge and skills are necessary. This is why heterogeneous teams work better. Three researchers from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Israeli Haifa have also shown this in a study.

 

Group dynamics in the innovation team

But which personalities should be represented in your innovation team? The so-called rangdynamic position model of the Austrian psychotherapist, psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, Raoul Schindler, helps. Accordingly, the members of a group, including those of your innovation team, take on very typical roles:

  • Alpha defines the target and specifies the direction. He is, so to speak, the lead wolf of the group.
  • Beta is the expert, the classic consultant. Beta needs alpha. To participate in the design. To do this, Alpha needs Beta again. The relationship of these two is ambivalent.
  • Gamma identifies itself with the objectives of Alpha and works on their realization. Gammas do the bone work. Without Gammas the whole team does not work.
  • Omega is the Opponent, the Miesepeter so to speak. He likes to resist, but can not only be regarded as a preventer. Because Omega questions things, it is an important quality indicator.

Paper Establishment of an innovation culture

 

Changes always encounter barriers

Discussing and developing something new within the innovation team is one thing. These innovations then actually implement within the plant, another. After all, innovations always mean change for your company and are therefore guaranteed by barriers: In essence, there are two obstacles to overcome:

  • The voluntary barrier describes the negative attitude of employees towards innovations. They deny resources in the form of their own workforce, money or material, because they are critical of the change. In addition, these employees encounter other colleagues who welcome and promote innovations, critical to negative.
  • The ability barrier covers the understanding of the entire innovation process. The application of new features is often a very big challenge for the individual employee as well as for the company as a whole. Think about the introduction of a new ERP software in your company.

 

With promoters you can overcome hurdles

So-called promotors can help overcome these barriers. In 1973 the German economist Eberhard Witte developed a model based on empirical studies on the introduction of computer systems, which improves the prospects for success of innovations and other changes in the company. This tried and tested model originally comprised two different promoters, the specialist and power promoter, and the process promoter later on:

  • Due to its position in the company hierarchy, the power promoter can significantly influence the innovation process. It can sanction criticism and protect innovation. He is also able to release resources. Its main task, however, is to convince and inspire everyone of the innovation project.
  • The specialist promoter contributes the necessary specialist and method knowledge to the innovation process. The specialist promoter also has an overview of the patent landscape. His position in the company hierarchy is unimportant. The specialist promoter drives the innovation process through its know-how alone.
  • The process promoter is the specialist for the organizational structure within the company. It establishes contacts and connections between the power and specialist promoters, but also with persons outside the company.

Wittes' promoter model has often proved its worth in innovation management. Since the 1970s, however, the economy has changed enormously. In particular marketing and advertising have become more important. This is why it is also important to involve a person from the outset in the innovation process that the market side knows. Someone from your marketing or sales department is the best. After all, you should also succeed in the market with your invention.

 

Do your employees have time for innovation?

However, all members of your innovation team will not be busy with new projects, but will also have to pursue their routinities. There is often a problem: What priority does your innovation project have? Are they more important than the daily business? Do your employees have enough resources to devote themselves to the new at all?

You can solve this problem by employing an external service provider for your innovation projects. This can reduce the time required for your employees to a minimum. In the case of the lead user method, the time required for your innovation team is essentially limited to attending four workshops.

The management of the project is then the responsibility of the service provider, who oversees compliance with the timetable and budgets, and ensures that the goal is achieved - keyword magical triangle in project management. However, when working with an external service provider, it is important that this has a separate contact person in your company. He should bring several skills. He should be a good communicator, be able to delegate and also have enforcement rights against his colleagues: have access to their calendar to coordinate appointments.

 

Conclusion: How to create the right innovation team

Do not combine innovations with creativity and diversity of ideas. Both are necessary, but they are not enough to place new products on the market. So do not just send young, supposedly creative colleagues to your innovation team. Because the output of such groups will certainly disappoint you. Instead, use the findings of the two scientific concepts described above, since they have already proven themselves in practice. And: Ask yourself whether your employees have the resources to deal with new things in addition to your routine work. If not, then you should work with an external service provider, who will be able to provide you with as much innovation as possible.

7 methods for idea generation

Michael PUTZ

Born in the Salzkammergut. After working for Shell and Porsche, he concentrated on innovation management as a study assistant at the Innovation Department of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. In 2003 he founded LEAD Innovation and manages the company as Managing Partner. Lectures at MIT, in front of companies like Google or NASA.

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