How do Innovation Managers build Innovation teams?


in Innovation

Innovation, Innovation Manager, Creativity, IdeasAs an Innovation manager, what’s the one thing you look for in building a high-performance Innovation team/Innovative organization? If you had to start from scratch, what steps would you take, first and foremost?

I’d appreciate your opinions as answers to this question. Thank you!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Joan Koerber-Walker September 12, 2010 at 20:09

When moving an idea from concept to reality to acceptance, I look for team memebrs with diverse conative talents. (Conative talents are those we use to get things done.) The tool I use to determine who has which talent is called the Kolbe A, you can find a link and a bit more in this post from earlier this month.

Once I have the right people on the team,then together we lay out our plan – and execute on it. I have found that if you start with the right mix of people, the rest gets easier.


Mary Wallgren September 13, 2010 at 04:42

I agree with Joan. The thing I look for in assembling an innovation team is diversity. However, I don’t use a tool to determine that, rather, I look at the background of the participants. If the innovation team is tasked with solving a particular problem, then I want a couple of subject matter experts, a few people that I can count on to always come up with wild ideas. Even if those wild ideas don’t work, they often spark a more practical idea. Ideally, I also want the decision maker on the team. If the decision maker isn’t there, he/she doesn’t understand the thought process that went into coming up with the ideas and can more easily reject them. If it is a manufacturing type problem (or will be manufactured), I try to get a couple of experienced line operators and/or mechanics (by picking two people, it makes an unfamiliar setting/meeting more comfortable for them.) While I love a group size of 7-8, I’ve rarely had that luxury. Usually each group with a stake in the problem or opportunity wants to send several people and the group mushrooms to 15 – 20 people.

I hope that helps.


Janet Kuntz September 13, 2010 at 18:35

I often don’t get the luxury of choosing who is on an innovation team, so my focus is about finding people’s strengths and how they can contribute to the process. It’s about setting a respectful environment and being very clear about the objective of the team.

When I do get those choices, I start asking around for recommendations based on specific questions. I look for people from varied backgrounds so that we get a holistic perspective. I look for people who are curious and have a wide network that crosses professions. People from the production environment as well as at least one analysts They ensure that we will conduct due diligence before finalizing a recommendation.

Hope that helps.



jim melton September 17, 2010 at 23:30

Innovative teems start with diversification of talent as others have stated. I had the opportunity to hire a very talented team, 9 strong, at American Greetings as design director of displays in 1990 to design the $70,000 programs we faced every year. The key to success for us was the explicit respect for fellow designers and their thoughts. All thoughts and ideas were encouraged and expounded upon. We developed 2 innovative displays that devastated the competition for years, Hallmark. Our gift rap designs were not only patented but gained 36′ of incremental floor space in all wall-mart superstores


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