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Is your innovation team in the in-crowd?

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Is your innovation team in the in-crowd?

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Think of your organisation and it seems likely that you will be able to identify the power centre of it.  This will probably be the department that tends to dominate how things are done.  For instance, it could be the sales department, or maybe finance, or maybe in a consumer products company the marketing department.  Whatever the power centre is, they will have a large amount of influence on your organisation.  It’s quite likely even that your CEO originated from that department.

So how does this matter in relation to successful innovation?  Well think of innovation as a break from the norm.  If you build a team to persue in an innovation project, the chances are strong that they’ll be going about things in a different way to the rest of the company.  Arguably their biggest ‘foe’ will be the all powerful department themselves.

The chances are that when you form your team for the innovation project, it will contain a member of staff from the power centre of your organisation.  If you’re looking to instigate a subtle powershift away from this traditional core, you will need to carefully consider how your innovation team is structured to ensure that old hierarchies aren’t maintained in the new team.

For instance, if sales is the most powerful department in your organisation, and you want to move away from that with your new innovation, it would be dangerous to install a sales person as the leader of your innovation team.  It may even be dangerous to give them significant power in the formal/informal org chart created for the new team.

Suffice to say, I’m not advocating that you try and ostracise the traditional power centre of your organisation, far from it, you will need them on board if your innovation has a hope of succeeding.  What I am saying however that if you are looking to instigate a shift away from the past and into the future, you need to be mindful not to replicate the historic power centre inside of your innovation team.

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