Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Innovators, innovation teams and the innovation process 1 – an organizational and functional story

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 30, 2013

I have been writing in this blog about innovation and capturing its value to the business for virtually as long as I have been writing to this blog at all. And in that regard, and with an organizational focus I cite, by way of particularly pertinent example, my series: Keeping Innovation Fresh (see Business Strategy and Operations – 2, postings 241 and loosely following for Parts 1-16.)

I developed and presented that series with a simple and immediately significant goal – helping organizations with innovative potential to both develop this font of value and to create sustaining value and wealth out of it. So I wrote about building systems that would support the innovative and inventors, and help them to navigate the processes and challenges of moving their ideas and prototypes into the more mainstream productive side of their business. But I did not write about the innovation process or hands-on innovators or inventors per se, except as needed in passing for purposes of discussing organizational systems.

My goal here is to flip that discussion around, and for the most part simply assume an existing innovation-supportive organizational system – and mechanisms and organizational structure for transferring new innovations from the lab bench to production. My goal here is to discuss innovators and the innovation process per se. And as a basic orientation to that discussion to follow, I begin by noting that innovators and sources of innovation do not readily fit into any single simple cookie-cutter pattern. And their diversity, and the way that innovation as a process and innovators who bring it to the organization disrupt standard and tried and true systems and processes, often leads to real resistance to creative change and to those who would bring it.

As a starting point for this, I focus on the innovators themselves, and by loosely organizing them as fitting into three basic categories:

• Individual and even idiosyncratic innovators with their creative and often iconoclastic spirits and approaches,
• Collective efforts at developing and refining ingenuity through organized research and development teams, and
• Crowd sourcing innovation, and opening up the creative potential of the more openly sourced community.

All three have their roles to play in the cutting edge, creative organization and all can effectively contribute to the overall organization and its ongoing success, while being supported for and rewarded for their creative and even disruptively creative contributions.

This is the first installment to a new series that I offer in a fundamental sense as if a direct continuation of my Keeping Innovation Fresh series, as cited above. And I will focus in my next series installment on individual innovators, and on identifying and talent scouting for them in new hires and within the organization. I will also discuss supporting and guiding the innovative effort in this context, and doing so without disrupting everyone else in the process or stultifying the creative endeavor – and while keeping the teams that those innovators are in working effectively and meeting their overall more standard goals and priorities too. That mix, I add, it not easy and that is why creative effort can all too often be blunted and its value potential lost.

You can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel and also at Business Strategy and Operations and at its continuation page: Business Strategy and Operations – 2.


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