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Designing Platforms for Innovation Leadership

Sar Malik
April 5th, 2021 · 3 min read

The foundational step in designing an innovation framework is to understand the growth potential of your innovation leaders. They may be inventors, product designers, creative developers among others, but they’re also leaders with an innate knowledge of your core products and your marketplaces. If you’re looking to expand your company’s innovation capabilities, exploring inwards and cultivating organic talent, is probably your best source of new opportunities.

Identify barriers otherwise easily overlooked

What’s required is a strong change in the frame of mind or commitment to taking risk established from the top-down. Sales teams are likely to best know the customers’ profile for value delivery, the business decision maker that can enable conversion in the pipeline, and front-line to ensure adoption. Where the friction exists in their perception of existing roles and organizational procedures, often a barrier to developing leapfrog growth centers.

Sales teams need to be empowered as critical enablers to innovation investment, not simply a revenue-led center.

As a growth leader interested in developing an innovation platform, you’ll need to challenge conventional wisdom. Most innovators are passionate about their roles and what they do but not necessarily committed to a culture that puts the company’s profits and objectives ahead of its competitors. These are important traits for competitive energy however alone they’re destructive enough to counter attempts for lasting change in innovation. In fact, most successful companies are both right-brain and left-brain.

”— the paring of sales leadership with product development, engineering, experimentation to deliver customer-centered solutions for today and game changing impact for future pipelines.”

Reinforcing Product Pipeline + Sales Pipeline

We’ve identified the key behaviors and traits that govern innovation decision-making, often linked to a set of critical decisions from an investment allocators’ perspective. This finding is not surprising. More and more companies are organized around what we call business group or functional teams.

The structure of business groups consists of people who are there to highlight the value proposition to customers, or to manage costs, and operational model processes. This may include budgets for ongoing business activities, identifying and building new growth engines paired with sales team feedback.

The functional team on the other hand, consists of people are centered in roles to deliver innovative solutions for customers and the front line of value creation. In the traditional sense, the person in charge of making and executing key decisions is usually the business-unit leader.

In an innovation platform, the right-brain team is often the one who makes early-stage critical decisions — not the investment allocator.

By empowering the functional leaders in launching a new product or service, the resulting growth expectations can followed through with joined sales-team enablement. Note however that viability needs to be established to evaluate proposed investment scenarios against expected future benchmarks - looking outbound to the market position of competitors’ products or industry trends.

Infusing artificial intelligence (AI) has become a prominent driver of change in products and services but forward approaches need to be taken to create a whole new approach to customer problems — challenges that don’t yet exist.

Tranched plans for effective growth management

Effective risk management and compliance requires the ability to recognize the point in time for when decision-making roles shift to allow for goal coalescing. The human brain, just like teams, is designed to excel at making and executing critical decisions. It helps us make impactful, timely choices- then do them to continually improve ourselves. The problem is to appreciate and acknowledge when it’s time to split the two parts of the brain.

We suggest applying a tranche approach to product launches: where innovation is continually refined through agile processes until minimum viable products transition into sales-led and sales-based decisions. There’s no doubting product leaders will refine and continually improve, perhaps forever if left unchecked. By funneling customer feedback through the lifecycle of the process with a defined hard-cap, it mitigates risk for effective allocation of capital to viable innovation projects.

The two parts of the organization, just like the brain need to be in sync, working efficiently to achieve an objective and using managed risk-taking to explore new sources of growth opportunities. Organizations that can achieve seamless balance and harmony between sales and product teams are often scalable growth stories.

Get in touch to learn how we can deliver an innovation platform strategy that empowers your team with the right technology for accelerating growth.

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