by Stefan Lindegaard
What is it like to work with innovation today? What challenges – and opportunities – do innovation directors and managers have in a corporate setting today? I often ponder on such questions.I will provide my views on this in a series of blog posts over the coming weeks. Please view my posts as conversation starters and share your thoughts and ideas.
First, we can discuss what it takes to be able to make a difference as you work with innovation in company today.
Many years back, this used to be about the strength of skills and competences you have within a given expertise matter. Such skills and competences are still valuable, but even though many people still think this is the case, I argue this is not really what makes you great at making innovation happen.
Slightly provocative, I would say this is only table stakes. This brings you into the game, but not much more than that.
You are only able to really make a difference if you also have a strong empathy and understanding of other business functions that need to work together with your given function in order to create the bigger picture.
This raises an interesting question. Should you become a specialist or a generalist? Personally, I think specialist with a strong understanding and empathy of other business functions have the best chances of making a big impact.
One reason is that engineers or others with hard-to-learn skills have an advantage, as they can more easily understand functions such as sales or marketing than the other way around.
Still, everyone should also understand the value of working with many types of innovation rather than just focusing on technology or products. Don’t forget services and processes.
What else can we add to this list? As companies begin to embrace open innovation the importance of networking and relationship building skills will become even more important.
Unfortunately, you also need to understand how corporate politics work in order to be able to get the resources needed to fund your ideas and projects.
Perhaps this sounds more appealing if we call this stakeholder management. Understand the role of others and their interests in relation to your work and use this knowledge to to turn them into backers of your ideas and projects.
That’s all for now. Later, I will look into how you also need to work more like a facilitator and integrator. Until then, please share your thoughts and insights on this post.