While many organizations undertake serious innovation efforts, there are a number of issues that can cause the effort to stall or fail. One key point of failure is structural misalignment between the innovation team and the core product teams. Since any open innovation effort depends on a successive chain of interaction and cooperation between various teams, misalignment in resources and purpose is lethal to any successful outcome.
In particular, alignment is crucial to effectively coordinate resources and ensure that buy-in remains constant across the organization. Efforts that are not seen as critical to business unit success will inevitably be sidelined, especially those that are not core responsibilities of various collaborating teams. Creating institutional alignment between innovation efforts and their application to the core product team is important for innovation teams to avoid stalling out. Sometimes this can be as simple as maintaining effective communication between open innovation and product teams.
Structural misalignment often occurs due to poor communication and a lack of process. Innovation teams are only as good as the information they provide, and maintaining a continuous engagement and flow between internal and external parties is the cornerstone of a successful open innovation effort. Even in the best of scenarios, it can be difficult to keep pace with the rhythm of information exchange.
Since the collaborative process is complicated, teams need a way to track interactions and manage information flow through a system of record. This also helps in creating accountability across projects and initiatives, as stages can be tracked, tasks monitored, and metrics can be created to identify whether the process is moving along efficiently. Especially in large organizations, it can be difficult to communicate between innovation teams and different business units without a centralized knowledge base.
Innovation teams without effective tracking frequently find themselves repeatedly evaluating the same opportunity over time, as technology opportunities are not always examined by same teams or individuals. Furthermore, with employee turnover, a lack of a system of record prevents organizations from effectively retaining institutional knowledge. Given the scale of the work involved, serious innovation teams cannot be effective without a system of record.
What is an effective system of record for innovation?
An effective system of record for innovation has three components: search, evaluation, and trend analysis. Tools need to give teams the ability to effectively search through the ever-increasing number of innovations released every day, evaluate technologies and move them through the innovation pipeline, and identify trends and key partners in their innovation networks. With 150 scientific articles filed, 700 patents published, and 80 start-ups founded every 30 minutes, teams cannot manage this process through ad hoc tools and broken tech stacks.
With so much at stake for innovation teams looking to maintain their company's competitive advantage, teams can't afford to ignore their system of record.