On setting up innovation teams
Start small and hyper-focused.
One of the most important lessons from the world of venture capital is that investing in the best team is more important than investing in the best idea.
Underlying assumption is simple—due to high risk of failure, a better team has higher odds of bringing the idea to the market.
So, how can you leverage this insight when setting up your corporate innovation team(s)?
Start by understanding the motivation behind the idea.
Who is proposing it and why? Is it coming from "the top," e.g. a strategic initiative that was selected by the management, or is it coming from the frontline, e.g. an idea from an employee that runs daily operations?
This is important to understand because innovation can be gruelling. It requires drive, tenacity, and sacrifice. In other words, the proposer is usually a good fit for leading the innovation team in the initial stages of the idea.
In addition to that, that person should also be willing to learn, capable of coping with uncertainty, and be able to pivot the idea if warranted.
Once you have settled for the team lead, ask yourself who else is needed to take this idea further? Who'd best complement the team lead?
Remember, you don't need to immediately staff the team for the future.
You don't need developers if you don't even know if this is worth doing. You don't need financial controllers if you don't even know the revenue model and cost structure.
Start small, and grow the team when needed.
As a final point, make sure to allocate enough time to the team.
Give them too little, and they won't be able to escape the gravitational pull of daily operations. On the other hand, if you allow them to work 100% on it, then make sure they have access to appropriate support structures so they can move the idea with speed.
Corporate innovation is a numbers game, so stack the odds in your favour and set up the best teams you can:
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