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How Innovative Companies Get Organized to Innovate

Now that you’ve conquered the challenge of deciding where to begin innovation in your company (see help for this in our last blog), you might feel willing, even enthusiastic about leading the charge, but what do you do if you’re an overextended team of one? You can do what innovative companies do and form an innovation team—whether it’s a small executive cohort or a broad, company-wide network. In this blog, we are going to quickly list out and define some key team roles and show you how they interact throughout the innovation program in the table that follows:

The Innovation Council is responsible for how “we do innovation here.” This can be one decision- maker or a small group who has executive ownership of the innovation system for:

  • defining the objectives,
  • prioritizing what innovation projects are worthy of the company’s attention,
  • allocating the resources,
  • setting the budget,
  • setting policies.
  • Identifying the roles of other key team members, and
  • Reviewing the overall performance of the innovation system.

The Executive Sponsor develops specific proposals for innovation challenges to be reviewed and approved by the council. The executive sponsor's key role is to champion a project and to:

  • define the objectives and budget,
  • designate the team lead
  • oversee the ideation, concept development, and evaluation stages,
  • review and approve the team lead’s proposed sprints. (A sprint is a time-boxed focused effort—e.g. one week, one month— by the team to address a specific backlog of tasks in order to complete a particular innovation challenge and move the project along.)
  • help a project break through organizational barriers

The Project Lead is responsible for making sure the team achieves the objectives of a given project and is specifically responsible for developing sprint proposals, executing on sprint proposals, and reporting back sprint results to the executive project sponsor.

Team members do whatever the tasks are that have been assigned for a given sprint. These members can come and go as needed for the different “sprints.” They report to the project lead.

The Department Head reviews requests for team members and decides on availability.

The Program Administrator provides:

  • Innovation training & facilitation
  • Innovation project planning support
  • Innovation project status reporting
  • Innovation Program Review
  • Record maintenance for R&D tax credits & planning
  • Annual review & revision of the Innovation Manual

The Innovation Process Overview Table below shows the roles and responsibilities of key members and how they interact throughout the steps of an innovation process

Underlying the success of innovative companies is a belief in the familiar adage that “teamwork makes the dream work.” At LaunchPath, our customers get organized for innovation by building a solid team to pursue the next dream.

Gray Somerville

Gray Somerville is a serial entrepreneur, innovation expert, and LaunchPath’s CEO. Besides LaunchPath, Gray has helped launch and lead three other successful startups including Telogical Systems and Adacus.

@graysomerville