Who Should be on Your Innovation Team?

by | Mar 21, 2014

This is a very important question. The easy answer? People I know and trust. Wrong. Or perhaps, senior leaders of the organisation? Wrong. Or maybe some junior members of the marketing team? Wrong.

At a recent symposium, Leon Segal says you need the four following characters on the team:

  1. The Decision Maker: “You want a decision maker to be part of the process so if you come up with a great idea, you don’t have to start selling it in-house,” Segal said. This person guides the group away from indecisiveness and makes sure things move forward.
  2. The Creative Thinker: This person contributes ideas and helps others do the same. “You want someone really creative that everyone knows” Segal said. A known creative can inspire others.
  3. The Information Broker: These are the company’s storytellers, the ones who drum up excitement around the proverbial water cooler. “You want someone who disseminates information throughout the organisation” Segal said. “As much as you can, you want the cascading of information to be organic”
  4. The People Person: Prior to founding Innovationship, Segal was the founder and director of design firm IDEO’s studio in Israel. IDEO's founder, David Kelley, built the company around the idea that empathy drives design thinking. Segal said this is essential. “You want someone who is sensitive, who is able to create empathy for end users… but also for the group” he said.

I have to say, I somewhat disagree. Our view is that you need:

  1. Diversity, diversity and diversity. Make the team as diverse as possible - up and down the hierarchy, different jobs, different lenses, different backgrounds. Forget about the roles and reporting structures - this is a brat time to leave them at the door.
  2. People who have a passion for innovation. See the fire in their eyes - if there is no fire, pass on them.
  3. People who will execute. It's not about talking about innovation - its about mobilising the troops so that they can execute. It's all about doing, not talking. Include people who you know can execute.
  4. Diversity, diversity and diversity.........Did we say that before?
  5. Good communicators. Communication coming out of the team is really important - indeed, if communication is not strong the initiative will fail. So ensure there is at least one excellent communicator.
  6. Great listeners. We are not great listeners. So it is important to have people who are excellent at listening and observing, rather than imposing their own views.
  7. Did we mention diversity?

Ah...yes..........and make sure there is diversity in the composition 🙂

Jeffrey Tobias

About Jeffrey Tobias

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well-known startups.

View All Posts

Managing Director, The Strategy Group

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.

Need help to get your business to the next level?

More related articles on innovation

Share This