Build an innovation team

By Avery Baxter

Innovation, as a term, appears to be new. There’s hardly a business that doesn’t plug the word into its messaging, particularly messaging that comes from leadership. Yet, innovation is not new. Seeing an innovation team identify the right idea, then effectively take that idea to implementation, measurement and advancing implementation is not so common.

Why build an innovation team?

Which idea is best?

Every idea is not worth acting on. Every idea isn’t even worth devoting an hour to vet. An innovation team should bring incredibly strong organization, decision making, smart risks taking appetites, visionary, communication and technological skills to the table.

Each member of the team doesn’t need to be strong in each of these areas. For example, one innovation team member may be organized and a talented writer, but not be as strong when it comes to making decisions and taking risks.

But, the innovation team as a whole needs to come with all of the skills. A desire to help your organization and/or to further develop product, services or project skills should also be a key motive that each team member has for examining new ideas, fully vetting the ideas and designing a written implementation strategy.

Measuring idea sustainabiltiy

Stay away from developing budgets and setting deliverable timelines until after ideas have been fully vetted and organized into workable action steps. Parts of the plan that are to be measured should also be identified.

The latter is a must. The last thing that you want is to have a new product or service be measured by the public when the product or service falls flat and doesn’t receive the sales (public support) that it needs to be sustainable.

For example, your innovation team should measure current market saturation for the idea that you are considering turning into a product or service. To you, the product or service may be new. But, conduct market search and you may find out that there are at least three dozens of similar products or services already on the market.

This alone wouldn’t mean that you should abandon the idea. Your innovation team may find ways to build unique advantages and unique benefits into the idea that they are exploring.

Innovation team needs what it needs

Give the innovation team time to examine different levels of a new idea. During the idea vetting stage, money is generally not a needed resource. It is good if innovation team members get together in person to thoroughly vet an idea.

As tempting as it may be, avoid pushing the team to green light an idea that you like. Again, this could blow up later, costing you thousands or millions of dollars, after you take your organization through the other stages of the development process and take the product or service to market.

Also, identify all resources needed to bring the new product or service to market. Vet out these resources (i.e. time involvement, money amounts, people skills). Do any of the people who will work on bringing the idea to fruition need training? What type of training do they need and how much? What is the best way to deliver the training — a classroom setting, via webinar or virtual training session?

Which types of training should be delivered online versus in a face-to-face setting. How long should each training be? Will certifications and exams be required to complete the training, which ones?

This is just one example of the vetting that’s needed before a new idea is green lighted. In fact, a huge advantage to building an innovation team and encouraging the team to thoroughly vet an idea, process and each stage of product or service implementation (in advance of investing a single cent into the idea) is clarity. Vet an idea thoroughly enough and you could save your organization millions of dollars. You could also save employees frustration, anger and long work hours.

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Build an innovation team

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