I interact with corporate innovation teams on a daily basis. Many of these teams are full of great, competent people working hard to make innovation happen and I have lots of respect for these people and their efforts. But we should not overrate the value of such teams…
We need to understand – and always remember – that innovation happens through the business units; not through innovation teams. This team is indeed important, but beyond setting the strategy with the innovation committee (executives and business unit heads) their role is to help make innovation happen at the business units. They are facilitators; highly valuable and skilled facilators as well as integrators in the sense that they often have to bring external input into their pool of internal resources.
If a company builds the perception that the responsibility for innovation to flourish belongs only to a team of competent and hard-working people, they are in deep trouble because they have missed a very important point. Innovation happens on the intersection of the company and the market. It happens at the business units.
Just a reminder to myself – and others.