Formalizing an Innovation Team Can Sustain Growth

Innovation is an important and critical element in an organization’s strategy. With rapidly changing industries and the speed at which technology is evolving, innovation is necessary not only to grow but to stay relevant in existing businesses. There are many ways to formally organize innovation within a company, one way is to create a dedicated innovation team.
Sharing Innovation Vision With Management
It is paramount to present the vision of a new business platform to senior leaders and illustrate how it would support the company’s goals. Developing that line of site from idea to overall company direction and its related divisions is critical. The more transformational the innovation or new platform, the harder it is to make this connection, but it makes articulating the alignment that much more important.
When developing the business case for new ideas, the team should be very direct in revealing how the potential business fits with the company’s current business. For a dedicated innovation team, managing the project pipeline is an important task. It requires a healthy balance of ideas closer to the core business and ventures that are father out, more transformational and riskier.
Setting Objectives for Innovation Team
As a team develops and launches new profitable platforms, spending time with customers is critical. Staying connected to your voice of the customer strategies can yield a trove of valuable insights to guide the team to developing innovative new business platforms. Any new business platform should be built around value created for your customers.
Maintaining a comprehensive feedback mechanism with customers and end users will help you understand customers’ needs and will go a long way toward producing the right opportunities. It helps to keep the team lean in its approach, testing and experimenting and ultimately creating new platforms through an iterative approach that is highly invested in customer feedback.
What Are Your Metrics?
To ensure continued growth and support, innovation teams need to highlight results. Benchmarks revolve around steady, measurable growth driven by these questions
• Are we contributing to accelerating revenue?
•Are we growing through new customers, categories, and channels?
•Are we delivering value to our customers in a new, innovative way?
Sharing progress with leadership brings visibility and support for the team’s contributions. Sales and profits are primary metrics, but there are other elements to evaluate for new businesses:
1. The size of the opportunity and how it fits with current business
2. New customers and channels that would be reached
3. How ‘close in’ or ‘far out’ it is from the core competencies
4. How quickly a solution can be developed
Embedding Innovative Thinking in the Culture

The size or presence of a dedicated innovation team depends on how much the company wants to invest, but innovative thinking can effectively occur across the organization in all functions and at all levels. Proactive, creative, innovative thinking should be encouraged and instilled into the culture. What a dedicated innovation team offers is an engaged group of people whose primary responsibility is to position the organization well for the future by driving growth through innovation.

Editor ‘s Note: The 43North team is tapping into key sponsors, like Rich Products, to offer up tips for entrepreneurs and startups.

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