Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety: Program Sponsors’ Creed – Role & Responsibilities

Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety: Program Sponsors’ Creed – Role & Responsibilities

Whether your company has been innovating all along, or is just getting started with making innovation an intentional focus, there’s one fact that holds true: you can’t accomplish anything without dedicated support for both your overarching innovation program, and the individual challenges it comprises. Success starts from the top down at each level of your enterprise. You can’t expect results from your innovation program without executive approval and support, nor can you expect results from a single challenge if those overseeing it are less invested than the participants who’ve signed on to take part. With individual challenges, the crucial liaising role is that of the Challenge Sponsor – who is responsible for motivating and coordinating with the rest of the challenge team, as well as supplying funding and additional talent as needed. Challenge Sponsors answer to the Innovation Program Manager, who answers to the Innovation Executive. The Innovation Executive basically fulfills the role of sponsor for the innovation program as a whole. They are charged with keeping innovation endeavors moving forward, and proving their merit to the enterprise leaders. But whatever level of sponsorship you’re responsible for, there is an inherent sense of duty to adhere to – a creed, if you will. Here are directives both a good innovation program sponsor and challenge sponsor should follow: Be bold – In a sense you’re the biggest cheerleaders of innovation at the company – poised to seek out opportunities for creating positive change (and increased revenue) through innovation. Don’t be a shrinking violet – be a visible presence that reminds everyone that innovation is part of your culture (especially if...
Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety:  Which Came First – The Sponsor or the Challenge?

Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety: Which Came First – The Sponsor or the Challenge?

Every person involved in your company’s innovation program and process is valuable, of course, but one of the most vital roles that must be strategically filled for an innovation challenge to meet with success is that of Innovation Challenge Sponsor. The Challenge Sponsor is the person who bridges the gap between Innovation Program Manager and Innovation Challenge Manager – providing resources and ensuring that everyone working on the challenge has what they need – from funding to support staff – and that the innovation challenge is in line with the company’s mission and goals. Securing sponsorship for challenges is often part of the Innovation Program Manager’s duties (at least tangentially) and one that requires them to harness their inner marketing/private investigating skills – because one of the surest ways to get a sponsor on board is by identifying pressing business needs you can solve on their (department’s) behalf. After all, you’ll have a greater chance of success with someone who is deeply invested in the challenge’s outcome. All you have to do is find them. Which Came First, The Sponsor or the Challenge? If your innovation program has been up and running for a bit, you can easily approach those who’ve shown clear interest in challenges thus far or those with an obvious problem to solve. However if your program is new, or if you aren’t sure where the biggest opportunities are for innovative growth – ask. Sit down with executives and managers and find out what problems need solving. (This is where that private investigator bit comes in handy.) If your interview skills aren’t great, find the team...
Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety: Smashing Silos Encourages Participation – Here’s How

Overcoming Innovation Program Anxiety: Smashing Silos Encourages Participation – Here’s How

All forward-thinking companies are focused on innovation – at least in theory. In practice, many companies may think they’re working on innovation, when all they’re actually doing is circling the drain. Because innovation appears to be such a mystical process, companies lose sight of any process – waiting and hoping for a lucky break, without any real strategy. Which is exactly why they fail. Innovation is a creative process – and one that lends itself well to the benefits of community. When companies innovate, their best endeavors are for the good of all. So why not rely on the input of all in deciding what gets innovated? This post is to help you work through hesitations about seeking input in unusual places. Traditional corporate structure is crumbling. The antiquated notion that each department is a nation unto itself – the metaphorical silos of old – has been shifting, and enterprises are now embracing a new world of cross-collaboration. And nothing stands to benefit from this shift more than your innovation program. If you’re following the advice we’ve laid out in previous posts about innovation programs you know that assembling a killer team is a key component of getting your innovation program up and running. And smashing silos is one way to make sure your team is well-rounded and representative of your company as a whole – not just one department. There Is No “Silo” in Team Let’s be clear about something before we go any further: Silos aren’t ALL bad. As FastCompany’s Neil Smith says, “Silos are necessary in companies. They provide the structure that allows companies to work…....