Product Development and Management Association (PDMA)

Product Development and Management Association (PDMA)

26,501 members
  • Join

    When you join a group, other members will be able to see your profile and message you. The group logo will be visible on your profile unless you change that setting.

  • Information and settings

Have something to say? Join LinkedIn for free to participate in the conversation. When you join, you can comment and post your own discussions.

Audrey

When it comes to successfully executing on an innovation initiative, what are the top two critical Best Practices an innovation team must embody?

Consultant - Consumer Insights, Branding, Innovation across Food&Bev, Pharmaceutical, Finance, Technology, others

What practices do innovation teams need to let go of to optimize innovation performance?

  • Comment (55)
  • July 19, 2012
  • Close viewer

Comments

  • Rebecca L.

    Rebecca

    Rebecca L.

    Global executive: product development and strategy

    Excellent question! From my perspective I'd say that the 2 things that the team must have to execute are:
    1. a shared vision, trust, mutual respect and openness between (the diverse) team members
    2. the ability to think beyond the innovation to the ecosystem it will be part of and keeping that in mind as the product/service is developed

    I'm sure other folks with have more to add as it was very difficult to limit this to 2!

  • Audrey H.

    Audrey

    Audrey H.

    Consultant - Consumer Insights, Branding, Innovation across Food&Bev, Pharmaceutical, Finance, Technology, others

    Thanks, Rebecca. I appreciate your thoughtful response. Your insights seem very much in line with what I hear and read in terms of successful teams - a shared vision & thinking beyond the innovation to the ecosystem, specifically - come up a lot as a challenge to achieve. I'm sure there are many more than 2, and I would enjoy hearing more of your insights about Innovation Execution Best Practices should you ever feel like sharing more of them.

  • Rebecca L.

    Rebecca

    Rebecca L.

    Global executive: product development and strategy

    My pleasure Audrey and more than happy to share. Would be great to get other people's perspectives too.

    I've been thinking about the other part of your question: what pratices do innovation teams need to let go of to optimise innovation performance. A couple of thoughts that occurred to me were:
    * the fear of failure where the team makes safe bets instead of taking informed risks (which may not work out)
    * accepting what currently is and letting it constrain thinking ie creating internal barriers to innovation

    What about you - what do you are the critical best practices and/or hampering behaviours?

  • Audrey H.

    Audrey

    Audrey H.

    Consultant - Consumer Insights, Branding, Innovation across Food&Bev, Pharmaceutical, Finance, Technology, others

    Thanks, again, for these additional insights, Rebecca. And I do hope others will join in to share, as well. I just heard on MPR a piece about brainstorming. A neuroscientist on the show was talking about studies that reveal that group brainstorming sessions result in lower quality ideas than people brainstorming individually and then bringing their ideas to the table for discussion. Peer pressure to conform can bring the ideas down to a less creative level, to paraphrase...I feel this is related to your comment re. fear of failure, and teams making safe bets vs informed risks. I would agree, this is a huge hampering behavior. I see it frequently in the research work I do. People are sometimes afraid to not conform with the team's existing thinking. I understand it, as there's oftentimes significant time, money and resources already committed to supporting the existing thinking and people fear they will lose credibility and even their job by going against it.

    A Best Practice I've witnessed that mitigates this fear is this...In my experience from some of the consumer insight/branding work I've done, where I observe a team's reactions to the research findings, I have noticed that the more innovative, progressive teams are those with leaders who allow the team to admit they don't know all of the answers, and to embrace new ideas that do not fit with the existing thinking. It's freeing for the teams to be in a research mindset vs a knowing or expert mindset. So a leader who creates a safe place for learning and exploring without imposing judgment is a Best Practice that leads to optimized innovation and overall team performance. Another Best Practice I've witnessed is teams creating a space to just be together, without pressure, in a room and share stories of their experiences related to a current initiative that's posing challenges and to acknowledge and review past successes. Specifically, the President/CEO of a mid sized functional powdered beverage company mentioned this in a work session as an extremely valuable act in itself - getting the innovation team out of the chaos of the everyday work life, in a room where they could listen to each other and gain some clarity and insight around the initiative they were working on.

  • Frank H.

    Frank

    Frank H.

    Business Growth Leader | Innovation Best Practices Training | Speaker | Executive Advisor

    Audrey
    I agree with Rebecca but would elaborate by saying, many companies think pulling together a cross-functional group makes a good team. However if they are there to represent their function's interests (not as subject matter experts) then it is not a team - that's a work group.

    Strong teams are a small number of people (the number depends on the project's size and needs) with complementary skills, but members must be committed to: 1) a common purpose; 2) set of performance goals; 3) holding themselves mutually accountable. We call that the DNA of a team.

    Your second question: the team needs to let go of their emotional attachment to a project and make decisions based on data. Just because the company "loves" the idea/solution they must prove that the market will buy. This requires letting the facts speak not the champion with the loudest voice.

    On Brainstorming - most is very poorly done. There are best practices and using an expert to facilitate yields better results.

    You have very good info in your best practices discussion. Bottom line is good Teams are critical to success. After all it takes strong people to develop compelling new product.

  • Audrey H.

    Audrey

    Audrey H.

    Consultant - Consumer Insights, Branding, Innovation across Food&Bev, Pharmaceutical, Finance, Technology, others

    Thanks, Frank, for your thoughtful insights! I especially appreciate the distinction you make between whether individuals are representing a function or contributing as subject matter experts. I wonder how conscious people are of this distinction...they may be so used to representing a function that it's difficult to let go of that mindset?

    Just some thoughts about emotional attachment...I completely understand that falling in love with an idea doesn't necessarily mean it's a good one and should be pursued, but we do tend in Western culture at least to privilege the rational over the emotional and in my experience both are equally viable and important in decision making. This also bears out beyond my humble opinion to studies in neuroscience (and I'm not a neuroscientist so recapping here!) that show that removing or damaging the emotional centers of the brain leaving people without this capacity removes their ability to make decisions. We do need both aspects, it seems, but agree there is a balance that is required to be effective. Does this balance between the emotional and the rational fit with your experience?

  • Frank H.

    Frank

    Frank H.

    Business Growth Leader | Innovation Best Practices Training | Speaker | Executive Advisor

    Audrey
    I agree you can not divorce emotion from decisions, but if you have ever read the Introduction to Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely it reinforces that facts make for better decisions. (Focus on how the nurses in the burn unit removed bandages from the patients). Where I was going is that teams and sponsors get emotionally hijacked and this can lead to fabricating data to get the answer they want. Product development decisions need to be based on data, of course there is the grey area when the gut might have to lead the decision.

    The times when I "knew" we had a winner, I would push it through and that led to failure in some cases.

Have something to say? Join LinkedIn for free to participate in the conversation. When you join, you can comment and post your own discussions.

Your group posting status

Your posts across groups are being moderated temporarily because one of your recent contributions was marked as spam or flagged for not being relevant. Learn more.

Feedback