We’ve done a lot of research around what really makes for a high-performance innovation team. What we’ve found is that, if you go to Silicon Valley or Berlin or Singapore or Israel and look for the entrepreneurs—individual founders—they overweight slightly on the vision and the collaborations and underweight slightly on the execution and learning. But again, it depends on the individual.
But in a corporate environment, we find the difference is for the person who has the energy for the idea (and this is where it often falls apart): they often overweight on the uncovering and the generating, and they underweight on everything else, particularly in a large organization where functional expertise or functionalization is part of the organization model, because they haven’t had that cross-functional experience necessarily, and they are put in a role usually to generate ideas. And so if they have been generating the idea, they don’t necessarily have everything to execute it. Surrounding those individuals with everything else is really important.
What we find is that if you’ve been assigned an idea, then you often lack that vision, that product ownership, if you will. And so you might be from somewhere else, your background or your strengths may be somewhere in the execution, or perhaps in the collaboration. And without a rudder to steer innovation forward, and the vision that selling, generating, and uncovering that next level of insight requires, then initiatives fall off the track.
So this notion of how you make sure you’ve got the right teams, and also the right people, really starts at, “Well, where did that idea come from, and who owns the vision for that idea?” And then adjusting the team structure based on that to ensure it’s got the highest probability of success and the right capability mix associated with it.
Author: Erik Roth
Source: McKinsey Quarterly
Subjects: Innovation, Organizational Behavior