Primary Role: COMMUNICATOR
The first three months of the job are exciting and strategic. Your primary role is to define and refine the purpose behind your innovation program in a way that is clear and crisp. Don’t rush past this. Thankfully, your audience is small and primarily contained to the most senior leaders of your company. If you have their support, you are set up to start winning.
Primary Role: COLLABORATOR
Getting people involved and invested in the innovation program - which is beyond their day job, remember - is the next most important task. This requires savvy networking, political bridge building, and clear communication. An influx of creativity and energy matched with a collaborative spirit among the employee-base will give senior leaders confidence that you are on the right track.
Primary Role: ADVOCATE
Now, it becomes critical to have real, quality business ideas in the pipeline. To accomplish that, you’ll need to steadfastly advocate for resources so that middle management (whom your innovators report to) will allow their teams to spend time on innovation objectives. Your sponsors will need to feel confident there is pending business value set to materialize soon.
Primary Role: TRANSLATOR
At 18 months, your CFO will undoubtedly ask: “Are we sure this program is worth it?” That is when you need to have material, significant value you can point to as proof that innovation is working. Engagement numbers won’t work. A full pipeline of exciting things won’t either. You need results that are either financial (revenue or cost savings) or tied to capability (access to new channels, strategic competitive advantages, etc.). You must translate all the work into real value. And if the CEO and CFO don’t buy it, the likelihood of the innovation program continuing is in serious jeopardy.
This simple graphic shows the journey and breaks down the stakeholders you’ll need to engage along the way: